Fast Facts

Each year, we make more than 1,000 recommendations to help improve the federal government. We alert department heads to where they can save the most money, address issues on our High Risk List, or significantly improve government operations.

This report outlines our 13 priority open recommendations for the Department of the Interior as of June 2021.

For example, we recommended that Interior update regulations to ensure it can protect the integrity of oil and gas pipelines and manage the risks associated with their decommissioning.

Since our previous letter in April 2020, Interior implemented 5 of our priority recommendations.

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What GAO Found

In April 2020, GAO identified 10 priority recommendations for the Department of the Interior. Since then, Interior has implemented 5 of those recommendations by, among other things, taking steps to identify and evaluate offshore oil and gas drilling risks and improving regional coordination among federal partners to address energy and mineral issues.

In June 2021, GAO identified 8 additional priority recommendations for Interior, bringing the total number to 13. These recommendations involve the following areas:

  • improving oversight of offshore oil and gas activities;
  • taking action to ensure safety, health, and services at Bureau of Indian Education schools;
  • improving Bureau of Indian Affairs' management of energy development on Indian lands;
  • reducing factors that hinder tribal administration of federal programs; and
  • addressing Micronesia and the Marshall Islands' transition to trust fund income.

Interior's continued attention to these issues could lead to significant improvements in government operations.

Why GAO Did This Study

Priority open recommendations are the GAO recommendations that warrant priority attention from heads of key departments or agencies because their implementation could save large amounts of money; improve congressional and/or executive branch decision-making on major issues; eliminate mismanagement, fraud, and abuse; or ensure that programs comply with laws and funds are legally spent, among other benefits. Since 2015, GAO has sent letters to selected agencies to highlight the importance of implementing such recommendations.

For more information, contact Mark Gaffigan at (202) 512-3841 or

Full Report

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