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Highlights

A variety of land payment programs have evolved over the years to compensate States and counties for tax exemptions on Federal land within their jurisdiction. GAO reviewed programs in eight Western States where 80 percent of the Federal land payments are made and found many inequities and inconsistencies.

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Recommendations

Matter for Congressional Consideration

Matter Status Comments
If Congress decides to continue receipt-sharing payments and acreage payments under Public Law 94-565, it should take action to correct fundamental weaknesses in Public Law 94-565. The weaknesses in the law that allow States to influence the size of payments and that require BLM to use State data which have been unreliable could be corrected by amending Public Law 94-565 so that: (1) its payments are disassociated from receipt-sharing payments; (2) deductions for receipt-sharing payments are allocated to counties where receipts were earned; or (3) deductions for receipt-sharing payments are allocated to counties based on population or some other allocation method.
Closed - Not Implemented
The recommendation is still valid. However, because of the political impact, the act will not be changed and BLM will continue to operate as usual.
Congress should delete special provisions for Oregon and California grant lands and Coos Bay Wagon Road grant lands, and include payments under those exempted statutes to correct the Public Law 94-565 problem of paying counties a minimum of 10 cents an acre when the county is already being compensated under receipt-sharing programs. This action is necessary to avoid making acreage payments to counties that already receive unusually large receipt-sharing payments under special legislation for revested lands.
Closed - Not Implemented
The recommendation is still valid. However, because of political impact, the act will not be changed and BLM will continue to operate as usual.

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Bureau of Land Management 1. To make corrections in past payments, the Bureau of Land Management should take steps to validate receipt-sharing deductions for fiscal years 1977 and 1978 payment computations to all States except for the eight States GAO reviewed. GAO has already given the Bureau correct data on those States.
Closed - Implemented
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

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