Interior's Minerals Management Programs Need Consolidation To Improve Accountability and Control

EMD-82-104: Published: Jul 27, 1982. Publicly Released: Jul 27, 1982.

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GAO undertook an overall review of the Department of the Interior's organizational structure for Federal energy and mineral resources management to determine whether: (1) the programs are organized to facilitate the accountability of the program managers who affect revenues; and (2) costs, receipts, and budget requirements are reported completely, accurately, and in a format conducive to public and congressional review.

The lines of responsibility in Interior's mineral programs are fragmented between the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the newly formed Minerals Management Service (MMS). The fact that funds for minerals management are part of two separate budget accounts complicates program review and weakens accountability. Many benefits could be derived from consolidating the responsibilities now divided between the two bureaus, including improved financial management, information analysis, and decisionmaking. BLM is responsible for long-range planning and the administration of onshore mineral leases before development starts, and MMS is responsible for the supervision of the development of leases. This delegation of authority presents problems at the departmental and field levels, does not adequately address the interdependence of many functions, and complicates program management. The questionable accuracy of lease interest records may hamper efforts to verify the accuracy of royalty accounts. A minimum of four Interior bureaus play a role and request funds for managing Federal coal resources. Thus, costs and related benefits are scattered throughout the Department, there is an inability to perform a meaningful program evaluation, a clear line of authority cannot be identified, and improved management efficiency is not a part of routine program management. Such a division also hampers the achievement of national goals for exploration and development of Federal energy and mineral resources.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The agency plans no action on the recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should consolidate all onshore minerals management responsibilities into MMS to the extent permitted by law.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior


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