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    Subject Term: "Oil and gas resources"

    7 publications with a total of 22 open recommendations including 1 priority recommendation
    Director: Frank Rusco
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    4 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management, who oversees BSEE, to establish a mechanism for BSEE management to obtain and incorporate input from bureau personnel and any external parties, such as Argonne, that can affect the bureau's ability to achieve its objectives.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In its June 9, 2017 response to our report, Interior indicated that BSEE is developing new strategies to improve trust and foster greater collaboration for consideration by the new Director. Interior anticipates BSEE taking action by April 30, 2018.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management, who oversees BSEE, to address leadership commitment deficiencies within BSEE, including by implementing internal management initiatives and ongoing strategic initiatives (e.g., Enterprise Risk Management and performance measure initiatives) in a timely manner.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its June 9, 2017 response to our report, Interior indicated that BSEE will incorporate lessons learned from its first ERM cycle in future cycles and that BSEE will incorporate a performance management dashboard in fiscal year 2018. Specific completion dates were not provided.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the BSEE Director to address trust concerns that exist between headquarters and the field, BSEE should expand the scope of its employee engagement strategy to incorporate the need to communicate quality information throughout the bureau.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its June 9, 2017 response to our report, Interior indicated that BSEE's response to this recommendation would be incorporated into its corrective actions for recommendation 1. The target completion date is April 30, 2018.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the BSEE Director to increase organizational trust in Integrity and Professional Responsibility Advisor (IPRA) activities, BSEE should assess and amend IPRA guidance to clarify (1) severity threshold criteria for referring allegations of misconduct to the IG and (2) its reporting chain.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its June 9, 2017, response to our report, Interior indicated that the BSEE Director will evaluate options for clarifying the roles, responsibilities, and processes for the IPRA. The target date for completion is December 31, 2017.
    Director: Frank Rusco
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure Interior can hire, retain, and train staff it needs to provide effective oversight of oil and gas activities on federal lands and waters, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget to regularly evaluate the effectiveness of its available incentives, such as special salary rates, the student loan repayment program, and other incentives in hiring and retaining key oil and gas staff.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2016, Interior's Office of Policy, Management and Budget outlined a plan to assess the effectiveness of special salary rates, as well as recruitment, relocation, and retention incentives by tracking measures such as turnover and acceptance rates. In January 2017 Interior officials reported that the evaluation of these incentives would be conducted on a regular basis. When we confirm that the agency has implemented its evaluation plan, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help ensure Interior can hire, retain, and train staff it needs to provide effective oversight of oil and gas activities on federal lands and waters, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget to annually evaluate the bureaus' training programs, including: (1) staff training needs, (2) training effectiveness, and (3) potential opportunities for the bureaus to share training resources.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In January 2017, Interior officials said the bureaus were developing, or had developed, the means by which they would assess their training needs and review, evaluate, and update their training programs for technical staff. Interior also told GAO that as part of its quarterly review of performance data, the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget will ensure that BLM, BSEE and BOEM are coordinating their training needs. Interior officials said that their Office of Strategic Employment and Organizational Development will validate the bureaus' active engagement in this activity and provide support in the fulfillment of this recommendation where needed.
    Recommendation: To help ensure Interior can hire, retain, and train staff it needs to provide effective oversight of oil and gas activities on federal lands and waters, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management to develop technical competencies for all key oil and gas staff.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In January 2017 Interior officials reported that the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management will direct BLM, BSEE and BOEM to identify their individual bureau's respective technical competency needs for all key oil and gas staff and develop a plan with milestones for applying these competencies to recruitment, retention, and training strategies designed to address the unique requirements of each bureau.
    Recommendation: To help ensure Interior can hire, retain, and train staff it needs to provide effective oversight of oil and gas activities on federal lands and waters, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management to evaluate the need for and viability of a certification program for BSEE inspectors.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In January 2017 Interior officials reported that the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management will direct BSEE to evaluate certification programs that are used in other federal agencies and in industry to determine whether these types of formalized verification systems could benefit the inspection program. BSEE will award an Inspector Training Program evaluation contract to independently assess the need and effectiveness of a certification program for BSEE inspectors, including benchmarking with the BLM and other federal enforcement and compliance entities with inspector workforces.
    Recommendation: To help ensure Interior can hire, retain, and train staff it needs to provide effective oversight of oil and gas activities on federal lands and waters, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget to coordinate with the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management to create or use an existing mechanism, such as the Deputies Operating Group, Principals Operating Group, or the Interior Training Directors Council, to facilitate collaboration across the three bureaus in addressing their shared hiring, retention, and training challenges.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, Interior has not identified what mechanism it will use to facilitate collaboration across the three bureaus. In January 2017, Interior officials reported that as part of its quarterly review of performance data, the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget will coordinate with the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management. We will provide updated information when the agency demonstrates that it has created or selected an existing mechanism to use for ongoing collaboration across the three bureaus in addressing their shared hiring, retention, and training challenges.
    Director: Frank Rusco
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and, as appropriate, the Director of the Bureau of Land Management to establish required time frames for the review and approval of Indian CAs to ensure a more timely CA process.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to BIA officials, as of March 2017 an internal subject matter expert (SME) group met and drafted a process flow chart to establish timeframes for the review and approval of Indian CAs in an effort to ensure a more timely process. These timeframes need to be submitted to the BIA Trust Director for review and approval.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and, as appropriate, the Director of the Bureau of Land Management to develop a systematic mechanism for tracking Indian CAs through the review and approval process to determine, among other things, whether the revised CA process meets newly established time frames.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: Also as of March 2017, according to officials the same SME group met and formulated a proposal to create a tracking tool for Indian CAs through the review and approval process in the BIA system of records, TAAMS. The proposal includes several components of specific fields and data that must be captured to meet our recommendation. This proposal has to be edited prior to submission to the TAAMS Change Management Board, which may take several months. In the meantime, BIA is implementing a tracking tool within google drive until the proposed updates are made to TAAMS.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and, as appropriate, the Director of the Bureau of Land Management to assess whether the revised CA process is achieving its objective to improve the timeliness of the review and approval of Indian CAs, and if not, make changes as appropriate.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, no additional updates were provided for this recommendation. However, Interior officials had previously noted that both BLM and BIA would use the same tracking spreadsheet mentioned above until completion of the enhanced TAAMS system in order to monitor and assess the results of their efforts to streamline the Indian CA review and approval process.
    Director: Frank Rusco
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To further improve its production verification efforts and to increase communication among the bureau's staff with specialized knowledge on oil and gas measurement issues, improve the consistency and efficiency in both onshore and offshore measurement issues, and ensure that Interior continues the ongoing responsibilities outlined in our prior recommendations, the Secretary of the Interior should ensure the team meets in accordance with the provisions in the revised charter.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In January 2016, officials stated that Interior had updated the Gas and Oil Measurement Team's charter. The charter, which was signed in December 2015, requires that the team meet at least twice per year. The charter further requires that the team is to periodically report progress of ongoing work to the newly established Interior oversight entity, the Onshore and Offshore Coordinating Committee. Interior provided documentation indicating that the team has met once since the charter was signed, with a meeting held in March 2016.
    Recommendation: To further improve its production verification efforts and to provide greater assurance that BLM staff are consistently applying the new guidance to commingling agreement requests and determine whether the guidance corrected deficiencies and produced improvements, the Secretary should direct BLM to schedule and complete the internal review as expeditiously as possible.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2016, Interior officials stated that once the new gas measurement regulations are finalized and implemented, BLM will conduct the internal review.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that EPA's oversight of the class II program is effective at protecting drinking water sources from the underground injection of large amounts of wastewater that will be produced with increasing domestic oil and gas production, and to support nationwide reporting goals until the national UIC database is complete, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should (1) improve the 7520 data for reporting purposes, as well as to help with quality assurance for the national UIC database, by developing and implementing a protocol for states and regions to enter data consistently and for regions to check 7520 data for consistency and completeness to ensure that data collected from state and EPA-managed class II programs are complete and comparable for purposes of reporting at a national level, and (2) in the interim, develop a method to use the 7520 database to report UIC data, including data on class II wells, until the national UIC database is fully populated with state data.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, EPA said that its 7520 database is current as of 2014 and the quality assurance process has been completed. It is developing a method to use the database to report aggregated national data on the Underground Injection Control (UIC) program.
    Recommendation: To ensure that EPA's oversight of the class II program is effective at protecting drinking water sources from the underground injection of large amounts of wastewater that will be produced with increasing domestic oil and gas production, and to ensure that EPA maintains enforcement authority of state program requirements, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should (1) conduct a rulemaking to incorporate state program requirements, and changes to state program requirements, into federal regulations, and (2) at the same time, evaluate and consider alternative processes to more efficiently incorporate future changes to state program requirements into federal regulations without a rulemaking.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA agrees with GAO's analysis that state program requirements and changes should be approved and codified in federal regulations. However, EPA does not agree with GAO's recommendation to conduct one comprehensive rulemaking to achieve this. In November 2016, EPA officials said they will continue to explore alternative methods for maintaining federal enforceability under the current statutory provisions; it plans to finish its efforts in January 2017. GAO will continue to monitor this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that EPA's oversight of the class II program is effective at protecting drinking water sources from the underground injection of large amounts of wastewater that will be produced with increasing domestic oil and gas production, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should evaluate and revise, as needed, UIC program guidance on effective oversight to identify essential activities that EPA headquarters and regions need to conduct to effectively oversee state and EPA managed programs.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, EPA stated that it has developed a national framework for oversight of the UIC program and to transfer knowledge to new staff. EPA said that it will continue to evaluate whether to update its guidance. We are continuing to monitor EPA's progress on this recommendation.
    Director: Frank Rusco
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Land Management to take steps to establish a documented process that will provide reasonable assurance that oil and gas rules and guidance is reviewed and periodically updated.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: We are waiting to review requested documentation from BLM on actions the agency took in September 2017 that may have addressed this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Land Management to take steps to establish formal agreements with all relevant state regulatory agencies regarding oil and gas inspection activities; better leverage state inspection resources to avoid duplicative oversight activities, to the extent possible.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: We are waiting to review requested documentation from BLM on actions the agency took in September 2017 that may have addressed this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Land Management to identify and take necessary steps to ensure communitization agreements are reviewed within required time frames.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Rusco, Franklin W
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Land Management to take steps, including making changes to AFMSS, and in any new system that replaces AFMSS, to improve the ability of staff to identify wells that are a high priority for environmental inspection and to incorporate information on the inspection history of wells into the environmental inspection prioritization process.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: BLM concurred with the recommendation and has initiated action to update its Application for permit to drill (APD) permit processing system. This new system will be known as AFMSS II and, when fully implemented, may address GAO's recommendations. Currently, BLM's actions are insufficient to close this recommendation because they have not completed the updates to AFMISS. Specifically, BLM has not completed its update of AFMSS II to cover environmental inspections. We will continue to follow up with BLM as the agency continues to take action to improve its well tracking system. As of September 2017, BLM said it intends to update AFMSS II to cover environmental issues but has not yet done so.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Land Management to take steps to ensure that environmental violations or problems and enforcement actions are documented in a consistent manner.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.