The Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) Mining Law Administration Program (MLAP) is responsible for managing the environmentally responsible exploration and development of locatable minerals on public lands. The program is funded through mining fees collected from the holders of unpatented mining claims and sites and by appropriations to the extent that fees are inadequate to fund the program. Congress and program managers need accurate cost information in order to make informed program and budgeting decisions. However, GAO found that BLM's financial records did not accurately reflect the true costs of its programs because the costs of labor and a number of contracts and services costs were charged to MLAP and not to the appropriate program. As a result, other subactivities benefited from the charging of these improper costs and fewer funds have been available for actual MLAP operations. BLM has taken steps to make correcting adjustments for improper charges to MLAP contracts and services; however, additional adjustments are needed to correct for labor costs that were improperly charged to MLAP. Until these adjustments for improperly charged labor are made, Congress and program managers can place only a limited reliance on the accuracy of MLAP cost information.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Bureau of Land Management||The Director of the Bureau of Land Management should make correcting adjustments for improper charges to appropriation accounts.|
|Bureau of Land Management||The Director of the Bureau of Land Management should remind employees that time charges and other obligations are to be made to the benefiting subactivity as stated in BLM's Fund Coding Handbook and develop a mechanism to test compliance.|
|Bureau of Land Management||The Director of the Bureau of Land Management should provide detailed guidance clarifying which tasks are chargeable to MLAP operations.|
|Bureau of Land Management||The Director of the Bureau of Land Management should conduct training on this guidance for all employees authorized to charge MLAP.|