Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on whether the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) established any refuge with migratory bird funds after Congress denied appropriations from land and water funds for a proposed refuge, focusing on: (1) which funds--land and water funds or migratory bird funds--FWS used to establish and expand refuges during this period; (2) how FWS set priorities for acquiring land with these funds; (3) whether FWS followed these priorities in requesting funding for this period; and (4) FWS' use of the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund, which provides grants for nonfederal entities to acquire land associated with habitat conservation plans.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of the Interior||1. To facilitate congressional oversight and enhance budget deliberations, the Secretary of the Interior should have the Director, FWS, annually provide legislative and appropriations committees with a list of all approved and proposed refuges and refuge boundary expansions--including those for which Congress declined to provide land and water funding. The list should identify, for each refuge: (1) estimated future requests for land and water funds; and (2) estimated future operations and maintenance costs.|
|Department of the Interior||2. To facilitate congressional oversight and enhance budget deliberations, the Secretary of the Interior should have the Director, FWS, expeditiously implement the revised automated priority-setting system for land and water funds, ensuring that the revisions correct the problems identified in the system and that they meet the needs of FWS and congressional appropriators.|