Rangeland Management:

BLM's Range Improvement Project Data Base Is Incomplete and Inaccurate

RCED-93-92: Published: Apr 5, 1993. Publicly Released: Apr 22, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) use of range management funds, focusing on the: (1) types of range improvement projects funded; (2) cost of each project; and (3) rangeland resources that benefit from the projects.

GAO found that: (1) BLM uses the Federal Financial System (FFS) and the Range Improvement Project System (RIPS) to track range improvements; (2) FFS tracks the funds obligated for range improvement projects by broad accounting classifications, but does not provide project-specific information; (3) RIPS provides project-specific information, including costs and primary benefits, the number of BLM projects completed, easy tracking of project costs, and the types of funds used to finance range improvement projects; (4) RIPS contains incomplete inventories, does not provide a complete and accurate record of project costs, and does not fully describe the rangeland resources benefitting from range improvement projects; (5) BLM has failed to sufficiently support RIPS to ensure that its information is complete and accurate; (6) BLM officials do not agree on the usefulness of RIPS project-specific cost data; and (7) BLM has not issued sufficient guidance or established accountability for the accuracy of its database.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: BLM is in the middle of a comprehensive Rangeland Reform effort that involves sweeping changes to all aspects of its range management program. BLM is in the process of changing all manuals and handbooks to coincide with proposed new regulations. As a part of its effort, BLM--in April 1995--issued an Instruction Memorandum that ensures that (1) range improvement data are consistently collected and entered into RIPS and (2) accountability for the accuracy and completeness of the data is assigned at the state, district, and resource area levels.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should instruct the Director, BLM, to assess the need for the information that the RIPS database is designed to provide. For information that BLM deems useful, the Director should: (1) issue bureau-wide guidance to ensure that the data are consistently collected and entered; and (2) assign accountability for the accuracy and completeness of the data.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: BLM is in the middle of a comprehensive Rangeland Reform effort that involves sweeping changes to all aspects of its range management program. BLM is in the process of changing all manuals and handbooks to coincide with proposed new regulations. As a part of this effort, BLM--in April 1995--issued an Instruction Memorandum that removes the requirement that project cost data be included in all RIPS project records. Such data, however, will be maintained by district or area offices in BLM's financial management system where greater accuracy and completeness can be ensured.

    Recommendation: For information deemed not useful, the Director, BLM, should ensure that these data are not entered into RIPS. In this way, BLM can avoid the inaccurate reporting that currently exists when staff at numerous locations enter data without guidance or accountability.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

 

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