Valles Caldera: Trust Has Made Some Progress, but Needs to Do More to Meet Statutory Goals

GAO-06-98 Published: Nov 16, 2005. Publicly Released: Nov 16, 2005.
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Highlights

In 2000, Congress authorized the purchase of the Valles Caldera (the Caldera) in north-central New Mexico. The Valles Caldera Trust (Trust), a wholly owned government corporation, is to become financially self-sustaining and to manage the Caldera for multiple purposes while sustaining the land's valuable natural resources. GAO was mandated to assess the progress the Trust is making in meeting its statutory goals.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Valles Caldera Trust To help ensure that the Trust meets its goals under the Preservation Act, to improve management oversight, and to establish a more effective management control program, the Board of the Valles Caldera Trust should develop a strategic and performance plan that identifies measurable goals and objectives for protecting and preserving the Caldera, providing recreation, sustaining yield, and becoming financially self-sustaining.
Closed – Implemented
In February 2012, the Trust developed a strategic plan covering the period from 2012 - 2018. This plan includes three long-term goals related to public access and use; natural and cultural resources; and financial sustainability. The strategic plan also identifies measurable objectives for each goal. For example, regarding public access and use, the strategic plan includes objectives to design and build a visitor center by fiscal year 2015 and design and build a transportation system, including roads, trails and ancillary facilities by fiscal year 2016.
Valles Caldera Trust To help ensure that the Trust meets its goals under the Preservation Act, to improve management oversight, and to establish a more effective management control program, the Board of the Valles Caldera Trust should develop a plan for becoming financially self-sustaining that includes financial information detailing how and when the Trust will try to achieve this goal.
Closed – Not Implemented
The Trust has not developed a plan for becoming financially self-sustaining. In a November 2009 letter to Senators Bingaman and Udall, the Trust proposed changes to the Preservation Act that would eliminate the requirement for financial self sufficiency, noting that the Preserve does not have the income generating capacity to allow the Trust to be self sufficient without substantially impairing the very resources they are charged with preserving. The letter proposes that Congress instead set reasonable cost recovery as the financial goal for the Trust.
Valles Caldera Trust To help ensure that the Trust meets its goals under the Preservation Act, to improve management oversight, and to establish a more effective management control program, the Board of the Valles Caldera Trust should develop mechanisms for periodic performance monitoring and reporting including annual performance reports that enable Congress and the Trust to track progress in achieving the Trust's program goals and objectives.
Closed – Implemented
The Trust developed a mechanism for periodically monitoring and reporting on its performance in the form of an annual report to the Congress in which the Trust reports on its accomplishments and performance during the preceding year. These reports have progressively improved in detail and comprehensiveness over recent years and have been a positive step toward monitoring and reporting on the Trust's overall performance.
Valles Caldera Trust To help ensure that the Trust meets its goals under the Preservation Act, to improve management oversight, and to establish a more effective management control program, the Board of the Valles Caldera Trust should develop a plan for the timely replacement of key personnel.
Closed – Implemented
The Trust developed a plan for the timely replacement of personnel.
Valles Caldera Trust To help ensure that the Trust meets its goals under the Preservation Act, to improve management oversight, and to increase accountability to Congress and other stakeholders, the Board of the Valles Caldera Trust should obtain the annual financial statement audit for 2005.
Closed – Implemented
A financial audit for fiscal year 2005 was completed.
Valles Caldera Trust To help ensure that the Trust meets its goals under the Preservation Act, to improve management oversight, and to increase accountability to Congress and other stakeholders, the Board of the Valles Caldera Trust should provide a status report or the auditor's final opinion on the Trust's financial condition in its January 2006 annual report to Congress.
Closed – Implemented
Financial audits for fiscal years 2005 through 2009 have been completed.
Valles Caldera Trust To help ensure that the Trust meets its goals under the Preservation Act, to improve management oversight, and to increase accountability to Congress and other stakeholders, the Board of the Valles Caldera Trust should arrange to conduct future annual financial audits in a timely manner.
Closed – Implemented
Financial audits have been completed for FY 2005 through 2009.

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