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As of January 31, 2023, there are 4842 open recommendations that still need to be addressed. 473 of these are priority recommendations, those that we believe warrant priority attention. Learn more about our priority designation on our Recommendations page.

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1 - 20 of 20 Recommendations, including 1 Priority Recommendations

Oil and Gas: Federal Actions Needed to Address Methane Emissions from Oil and Gas Development

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1 Open Recommendations
Agency Recommendation Status
Bureau of Land Management The Director of BLM should consider whether to require gas capture plans that are similar to what states require, including gas capture percentage targets, from operators on federal lands. (Recommendation 2)
Open

Interior concurred with the recommendation. BLM stated that it is in the process of developing a proposed rulemaking that would require operators to submit waste minimization plans with every oil well application for permit to drill. The plans would provide BLM with information on anticipated associated gas production and the operator's capacity to capture that gas for sale or use. BLM stated that it did not plan to include gas capture percentage targets in the proposed rule, in part due to prior legal challenges. When we confirm what actions Interior has taken in response to this

Bureau of Land Management: Better Workforce Planning and Data Would Help Mitigate the Effects of Recent Staff Vacancies

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2 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Bureau of Land Management The Director of BLM should track data on vacancies and the use of details for all offices. (Recommendation 1)
Open

The Department of the Interior concurred with this recommendation. As of November 2022, Bureau of Land Management officials said the agency plans to incorporate the development of a vacancy tracking tool into its workforce planning efforts. BLM has developed a workforce planning framework that says it will select a tool to track both vacancies and details.

Bureau of Land Management
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Director of BLM should develop an agency-wide strategic workforce plan that aligns the agency's human capital program with emerging mission goals and includes long-term strategies for acquiring, developing, and retaining staff to achieve programmatic goals. (Recommendation 2)
Open – Partially Addressed

The Department of the Interior concurred with this recommendation. As of November 2022, the Bureau of Land Management has developed a workforce planning framework and project plan, but has not yet completed the development of a strategic workforce plan. The target date for creating the plan is September 2023.

Oil and Gas Leasing: BLM Should Update Its Guidance and Review Its Fees

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4 Open Recommendations
Agency Recommendation Status
Bureau of Land Management The Director of BLM should conduct a review to determine why the agency has had difficulty updating handbooks and its manual for oil and gas leasing as directed by BLM policy, and then adjust BLM's approach to updating them accordingly. (Recommendation 1)
Open

In February 2022, BLM reported that it will review its leasing manuals and handbooks to determine if the agency will move forward with smaller focused updates even if that may require more frequent revisions.

Bureau of Land Management The Director of BLM should develop guidance regarding the status codes for nominations contained in NFLSS. (Recommendation 2)
Open

In February 2022, BLM reported that it will develop a guidance document that will define the nomination status codes. BLM added in its response that status codes are still being added to National Fluids Leasing Sale System (NFLSS) as further development occurs.

Bureau of Land Management The Director of BLM should revise the agency's approach to conducting biennial fee reviews to ensure that future biennial reviews examine all costs BLM intended to recover with its application fees and, where appropriate, adjust fees accordingly. (Recommendation 3)
Open

In February 2022, BLM reported that DOI plans to initiate new regulations and revise existing rules. More specifically, Regulatory Information Number 1004-AE80 (proposed rule) would revise the BLM's fossil fuel regulations to update the leasing fees (e.g., competitive lease application, non-competitive lease application, leasing under right-of-way). .

Bureau of Land Management The Director of BLM should re-examine whether to charge a fee for nominating lands for oil and gas development. (Recommendation 4)
Open

In February 2022, BLM reported that DOI plans to initiate new regulations and revise existing rules. More specifically, DOI is considering charging a fee for an Expression of Interest (land nomination) in the proposed rule (Regulatory Information Number 1004-AE80) that would revise the BLM's fossil fuel regulations.

Oil and Gas: Interior Should Strengthen Management of Key Data Systems Used to Oversee Development on Federal Lands

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3 Open Recommendations
Agency Recommendation Status
Bureau of Land Management The Director of BLM should consistently designate data stewards at relevant levels to ensure data are of known and sufficient quality. (Recommendation 1)
Open

In its comments on a draft of this report, Interior concurred with this recommendation. When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

Bureau of Land Management The Director of BLM should develop training plans for key data systems that identify users and how they will be trained. (Recommendation 3)
Open

In its comments on a draft of this report, Interior concurred with this recommendation. When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

Bureau of Land Management The Director of BLM should define and document processes for developing and managing requirements for AFMSS II and MLRS in a manner consistent with existing or updated IT policies and guidance. (Recommendation 5)
Open

In its comments on a draft of this report, Interior concurred with this recommendation. When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

Federal Oil and Gas Revenue: Actions Needed to Improve BLM's Royalty Relief Policy

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2 Open Recommendations
Agency Recommendation Status
Bureau of Land Management The Director of BLM should evaluate its temporary royalty relief program, including the extent to which the policy met BLM's objectives—conserving oil and gas resources from becoming unrecoverable—and likely costs, such as forgone revenues—to inform any royalty relief decisions it may make in the future under the ongoing regulatory authority. (Recommendation 1)
Open

In an October 2021 letter addressing our recommendations, Interior concurred with our recommendation and stated that BLM planned to review its federal oil and gas permitting and leasing program by October 2023. Interior stated that BLM's review would be consistent with Executive Order 14008, "Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad." As of September 2022, we continue to wait for agency updates. We will update this recommendation when we receive additional information.

Bureau of Land Management The Director of BLM should update BLM's 1995 royalty handbook to provide specific, consistent, and transparent policies and procedures for royalty relief. (Recommendation 2)
Open

In an October 2021 letter addressing our recommendations, Interior concurred with our recommendation and stated that BLM planned to update its handbook by November 2023 to provide specific, consistent, and transparent policies and procedures for royalty relief. As of September 2022, we continue to wait for agency updates. We will update this recommendation when we receive additional information.

Oil and Gas Permitting: Actions Needed to Improve BLM's Review Process and Data System

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1 Open Recommendations
Agency Recommendation Status
Bureau of Land Management The Acting Director of BLM should develop a documented process to consistently implement the APD prioritization process outlined in Instruction Memorandum 2013-104 at all field offices. (Recommendation 1)
Open

The Department of the Interior, on behalf of BLM, did not concur with this recommendation. As of September 2021, BLM has not taken steps to address this recommendation, and the agency continues to disagree with our recommendation.

Bureau of Land Management: Agency's Reorganization Efforts Did Not Substantially Address Key Practices for Effective Reforms

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1 Open Recommendations
Agency Recommendation Status
Bureau of Land Management The Director of BLM should complete a strategic workforce plan that addresses how it will recruit for and fill vacant positions resulting from the relocations. (Recommendation 3)
Open

The agency neither agreed nor disagreed with our recommendation. As of May 2022, the agency said it is in the process of developing a process for bureau-wide strategic workforce planning.

Oil and Gas: Bureau of Land Management Should Address Risks from Insufficient Bonds to Reclaim Wells

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1 Open Recommendations
Agency Recommendation Status
Bureau of Land Management The Director of BLM should take steps to adjust bond levels to more closely reflect expected reclamation costs, such as by increasing regulatory minimums to reflect inflation and incorporating consideration of the number of wells on each bond and their characteristics. (Recommendation 1)
Open

As of July 2021, we are following up on this recommendation and will update it when we receive information.

Oil and Gas Development: Actions Needed to Improve Oversight of the Inspection and Enforcement Program

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3 Open Recommendations
Agency Recommendation Status
Bureau of Land Management The Director of BLM should identify the reasons internal control reviews were not completed (e.g., human capital and workforce), develop and implement a plan to address those reasons, and monitor state offices' progress toward completing required reviews. (Recommendation 1)
Open

In July 2019, BLM's Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management wrote a letter to GAO stating that the bureau agreed that there are additional opportunities to improve the Inspection and Enforcement program's internal control reviews and that policies should be updated and widely circulated. Specifically, BLM wrote that it is establishing teams to conduct internal control reviews, monitoring the status of any past-due reviews and actively engaging across its multiple state offices to ensure timely resolution. In October 2021, an official within the Department of Interior's Audit

Bureau of Land Management The Director of BLM should develop and document procedures for implementing internal control reviews under the July 2012 oversight policy. (Recommendation 2)
Open

In responding to our report, BLM stated that its July 2012 oversight policy, which expired in September 2013, should not have been allowed to lapse and given the importance of internal control reviews, the bureau will continue to use the July 2012 policy to conduct future reviews. In July 2019, BLM's Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management wrote a letter to GAO stating that the bureau agreed that there are additional opportunities to improve the Inspection and Enforcement program's internal control reviews and that policies should be updated and widely circulated. In October 2021

Bureau of Land Management The Director of BLM should implement a risk-informed approach to scheduling and conducting internal control reviews that takes into account the risks to BLM's mission, such as those inherent in field offices' workload and workforce. (Recommendation 3)
Open

In July 2019, BLM's Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management wrote a letter to GAO stating that the bureau agreed that there are additional opportunities to improve the Inspection and Enforcement program's internal control reviews and that policies should be updated and widely circulated. Specifically, BLM wrote that the bureau will issue updated guidance and procedures for conducting internal control reviews and that this guidance will help ensure that the bureau completes internal control reviews in a timely manner using a consistent risk-based approach. In October 2021, an

Federal Timber Sales: Forest Service and BLM Should Review Their Regulations and Policies Related to Timber Export and Substitution

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1 Open Recommendations
Agency Recommendation Status
Bureau of Land Management The Director of the BLM should review agency policies for continued relevance and effectiveness in addressing the risk of illegal timber export and substitution, and based on that review--and in accordance with applicable regulations--should issue new policies as necessary. (Recommendation 4)
Open

In September 2022, BLM stated that it is developing policies to incorporate its January 2021 Final Rule addressing timber export, including manuals and handbooks that will contain timber-related provisions. BLM expects to complete these policies by April 2023.

Oil and Gas Development: Improved Collection and Use of Data Could Enhance BLM's Ability to Assess and Mitigate Environmental Impacts

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1 Open Recommendations
Agency Recommendation Status
Bureau of Land Management The Director of the Bureau of Land Management should provide additional guidance to field offices on how to collect and use data collected during monitoring inspections and, in doing so, determine and implement an approach for using the data to assess the effectiveness of the agency's mitigation efforts, including its best management practices.
Open

In April 2021, BLM officials stated that efforts to implement this recommendation have been delayed. Specifically, BLM officials stated that BLM postponed any development in AFMSS 1 with the understanding that national reports for monitoring inspections would be developed in AFMSS 2. Officials stated that while BLM's AFMSS Team has made progress in developing this feature, it was given a lower development priority and pushed down the schedule because it was not already an AFMSS 1 feature. According to BLM officials, BLM plans to create an electronic data system for a risked-based annual

Have a Question about a Recommendation?

For questions about a specific recommendation, contact the person or office listed with the recommendation. For general information about recommendations, contact GAO's Audit Policy and Quality Assurance office at (202) 512-6100 or apqa@gao.gov.