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    Subject Term: "Public lands"

    8 publications with a total of 19 open recommendations
    Director: Rebecca Gambler
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Commissioner of CBP should develop and implement a policy and related guidance for documenting arrangements with landowners, as needed, on Border Patrol's maintenance of roads it uses to conduct its operations, and share these documented arrangements with its sectors. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Commissioner of CBP should clearly document the process and criteria for making decisions on funding non-owned operational requirements and communicate this process to Border Patrol sectors. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Commissioner of CBP should assess the feasibility of options for addressing the maintenance of nonfederal public roads. This should include a review of data needed to determine the extent of its reliance on non-owned roads for border security operations. (Recommendation 3)

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Beryl H. Davis
    Phone: (202) 512-2623

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen BLM's controls and reasonably assure accountability over mining law program expenditures, both payroll and nonpayroll, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Land Management to establish procedures for regular and timely communication to all BLM employees on policy and procedural changes affecting the mining law program's expenditure-related processes.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In support of closing this recommendation, officials from the Department of Interior's (DOI) Bureau of Land Management (BLM) provided us with an example of its timely communication (dated September 20, 2016) to BLM employees to announce the issuance of its revised Fund Code Handbook (dated August 12, 2016). They also re-iterated their policy about sending updates regarding guidance changes, which is included in its directives handbook. We reviewed the directives handbook and verified that it contains guidance for communicating policy and procedural changes affecting the mining law program's expenditure-related processes. However, we were unable to determine what procedures were established to ensure the regular and timely communication to all employees of policy and procedural changes take place. While we see the directives handbook is a good start towards meeting the intent of our recommendation, we did not see evidence within the directives handbook that requires these communications to be sent to employees within a specific timeframe (e.g., within 30 days of issuance of policy and procedural changes). We will continue to monitor the agency's actions to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To strengthen BLM's controls and reasonably assure accountability over mining law program expenditures, both payroll and nonpayroll, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Land Management to develop and implement a training program that provides all BLM employees with an understanding of the use of the mining law program funds to reasonably assure uniform application and effective execution of BLM policies and procedures. This training, to be successful, should be provided to all BLM employees who charge the program and communicate clear instructions on how employees should charge, document, and review transactions related to mining law program expenditures.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Interior's (DOI) Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agreed with our recommendation. On September 22, 2016, DOI's BLM informed us that the training material that will address this recommendation has been developed and reviewed by the BLM's Mining Law Administration Program and Budget leads. The BLM's National Training Center is currently preparing the training to be posted to "DOI Learn", the Department of the Interior's training portal. Once the training is ready for use, BLM anticipates issuing an Information Memorandum that directs targeted staff to complete the training. At the present time, the training is expected to be ready by end of fiscal year 2017. We will continue to monitor the agency's actions to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To strengthen BLM's controls and reasonably assure accountability over mining law program expenditures, both payroll and nonpayroll, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Land Management to develop and implement internal control activities for regularly monitoring compliance with expenditure-related policies and procedures in the mining law program. These activities should, at a minimum, (1) determine whether transactions were recorded to the correct subactivity and verified by an approving official and (2) assure that documentary evidence of review is maintained, as required in BLM's policies and procedures.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Interior's (DOI) Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agreed with our recommendation. On September 22, 2016, DOI's BLM informed us that DOI's BLM is developing a repeatable standardized annual internal control process which will include validation of Mining Law Administration Program (MLAP) expenditure transactions utilizing a "canned" report that is generated from the Financial Business Management System (FBMS), which is DOI's BLM's financial accounting system. This process will be incorporated into an existing DOI's BLM-wide budgetary review cycle requirement, such as the formal mid-year or 3rd quarter fiscal year reviews. The MLAP expenditures report will be distributed to DOI?s BLM state offices with instructions to obtain an adequate sample size from which to test MLAP fund transactions for compliance with Bureau policy. State budget officials will be required to identify their findings, corrective actions and certify the results from this exercise. It is anticipated that this requirement will be disseminated to the DOI's BLM state offices by Instruction Memorandum. The source report to be used for these reviews is still in the development stage and it is expected to be completed by end of fiscal year 2017. We will continue to monitor the agency's actions to address this recommendation.
    Director: Fennell, Anne-marie L
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that bonds are adequate to cover reclamation costs for wind and solar projects on federal land, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Land Management to establish data standards for the Bond and Surety System.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, BLM finalized its rulemaking effort for a competitive solar and wind energy leasing program that included requirements for bonding. In a February 2017 update, the agency said that data standards do exist for LR2000 and the agency is looking to add an appendix or section to that guidance that will clearly identify the data standards for the Bond and Surety System. They expect to do so in 2017. We will continue to monitor the agency's progress in addressing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that bonds are adequate to cover reclamation costs for wind and solar projects on federal land, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Land Management to develop an LR2000 action code to automatically notify BLM staff that a right-of-way is due for a bond adequacy review.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, BLM finalized its rulemaking effort for a competitive solar and wind energy leasing program that included requirements for bonding. In a February 2017 update, an agency official said that data standards are in process of being adjusted and guidance will be provided in the coming months that clearly identify an action code for future action on bonds, including an adequacy review. Additionally, BLM is continuing to work on its Mining, Lands, and Records System as a replacement to LR2000, which will include additional capabilities and other updates that LR2000 does not have. We will continue to monitor progress made to address this recommendation.
    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: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To develop an estimate of the scope of work remaining to address uranium contamination on or near the Navajo reservation, Congress should consider requiring that the Environmental Protection Agency take the lead and work with the other federal agencies to develop an overall estimate of the remaining scope of the work, time frames, and costs.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, we are not aware of any legislation being enacted to address this matter for congressional consideration.
    Recommendation: In light of the problems BIA has encountered in managing the cleanup at the Tuba City Dump site, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs to employ best practices in creating the schedule and cost estimates for the remedial action cleanup phase.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: In light of the problems BIA has encountered in managing the cleanup at the Tuba City Dump site, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs to identify and examine any lessons learned from managing the remedial investigation and feasibility study contract and consider these lessons as part of the acquisition planning process for the remedial action contract.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    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.
    Director: Fennell, Anne-marie Lasowski
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help the agencies enhance their abilities to identify their firefighting aircraft needs and better ensure they obtain aircraft that meet those needs, the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior should direct the Chief of the Forest Service and the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Safety, Resource Protection, and Emergency Services, respectively, to, subsequent to the completion of the first two recommendations, update the agencies' strategy documents for providing a national firefighting aircraft fleet to include analysis based on information on aircraft performance and effectiveness and to reflect input from stakeholders throughout the fire aviation community.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to Forest Service and Interior officials, the National Interagency Aviation Committee, which includes members from both agencies, has drafted an Aviation Strategy and has solicited feedback from interagency stakeholders. The committee plans to present the strategy for senior level review in October 2017. The Forest Service additionally reports that it has begun developing its own aviation strategy for 2019-2023, and expects to certify it by September, 2018. The Forest Service strategy will be linked to the Interagency Aviation Strategy.
    Recommendation: To help the agencies enhance their abilities to identify their firefighting aircraft needs and better ensure they obtain aircraft that meet those needs, the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior should direct the Chief of the Forest Service and the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Safety, Resource Protection, and Emergency Services, respectively, to, subsequent to the completion of the first two recommendations, update the agencies' strategy documents for providing a national firefighting aircraft fleet to include analysis based on information on aircraft performance and effectiveness and to reflect input from stakeholders throughout the fire aviation community.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to Forest Service and Interior officials, the National Interagency Aviation Committee, which includes members from both agencies, has drafted an Aviation Strategy and has solicited feedback from interagency stakeholders. The committee plans to present the strategy for senior level review in October 2017.
    Director: Rusco, Franklin W
    Phone: (202)512-4597

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To increase Interior's assurance that it is accurately measuring oil and gas produced on federal lands and waters, and to help ensure that Interior's production accountability inspection program consistently addresses key areas affecting measurement accuracy and that BLM meets its inspection goals, the Secretary of the Interior should establish goals for (1) witnessing onshore oil and gas meter calibrations, (2) witnessing onshore and offshore gas sample collections, (3) comparing onshore reported British Thermal Units (BTU) values with gas analyses, and (4) inspecting onshore and offshore orifice plates and meter tubes.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2014, BLM had not established goals for witnessing oil meter provings or gas meter calibrations. Officials stated that it would be too challenging to coordinate, as BLM inspectors would have to meet oil and gas company officials on site to witness the gas sample collection. BLM has also not established goals for comparing BTU analyses with gas analyses, though an official stated that comparisons do occur during an in office records review. For witnessing inspections of orifice plates and meter tubes, BLM officials again stated that coordinating these activities with companies would be cumbersome. Officials stated that inspectors do typically inspect the orifice plate when it is pulled for inspection by a company official during a gas meter calibration. For meter tubes, BLM has not taken any actions. BLM officials stated that when updating its oil and gas measurement regulations, it may address some of these issues. Interior officials set a time frame of 2016 to complete this effort.
    Recommendation: To increase Interior's assurance that it is accurately measuring oil and gas produced on federal lands and waters, and to improve the consistency of Interior's management of its onshore production and inspection program, the Secretary of the Interior should direct BLM to review and revise, as appropriate, its oversight of field and state offices and train managers involved in BLM's inspection and enforcement program to ensure adequate and appropriate review of personnel, processes, and production, consistent with standards for internal controls.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In December 2014, Interior officials stated it had a completion rate of 96 percent for its two part training class called Oil and Gas Field Managers Training. Interior officials have not taken any steps to review and revise, as appropriate, its oversight of field and state offices and have not provided a time frame for when they might take any actions.