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Highlights

U.S. consumption of oil and natural gas increasingly outpaces domestic production, a gap that is expected to grow rapidly over the next 20 years. There has been increasing concern about U.S. reliance on foreign energy sources. One option being considered is to increase domestic production of resources on land under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and Minerals Management Service (MMS) and the Department of Agriculture's Forest Service. GAO determined (1) the stages when agency decisions about oil and gas development can be challenged by the public, (2) the extent to which BLM gathers and uses public challenge data to manage its oil and gas program, and (3) for fiscal years 1999-2003, the number of MMS offshore development decisions that were challenged.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of the Interior To standardize the collection of public challenge data at the leasing stage for onshore federal lands, the Secretary of the Interior should direct BLM to include public challenge data in the new agencywide automated system for selling leases.
Closed - Implemented
On February 20, 2007, BLM issued an instruction memorandum to state directors of BLM offices that included guidance on how to incorporate public challenge data in its Legacy Rehost 2000 (LR2000) National Lease Sale System.
Department of the Interior To standardize the collection of public challenge data at the leasing stage for onshore federal lands, the Secretary of the Interior should direct BLM to issue clear guidance on how public challenge data should be entered into the new system.
Closed - Implemented
GAO recommended that BLM take two actions to standardize the collection of public challenges data at the leasing stage for onshore federal lands. These are (1) include public challenge data in the new agencywide automated system for selling leases, and (2) include clear guidance on how public challenge data should be entered into the new system. On February 20, 2007, BLM issued an instruction memorandum that included guidance on how to include public challenge data into its enhanced agencywide automated system for selling leases, called the Legacy Rehost 2000 (LR2000) system.

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