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BLM Move Out West GAO Report

The BLM Promised Its Move Out West Was The Best Possible Option. A Watchdog Report Says Otherwise. By Caitlyn Kim March 6, 2020.

“If the goal behind the Bureau of Land Management’s move out west is about reform, a Congressional watchdog agency says the Department of the Interior has not used best practices to make it happen.”

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: BLM LEADER TOUTS BENEFITS OF AGENCY’S HEADQUARTERS RELOCATION TO WEST “Deputy Director for Policy and Programs William Perry Pendley recently traveled to Grand Junction, Colorado where the new Bureau of Land Management (BLM) headquarters will be located. He met with leadership across the BLM and provided details on the relocation efforts taking place. He also sat down with the Grand Junction Sentinel to discuss the importance and positive impact of the move.”

“The BLM is relocating its headquarters functions and other supporting offices to the American West. This move will benefit the public we serve as well as the bureau and our employees. Moving the people who make critical decisions about the lands and programs we manage will help provide a greater on-the-ground understanding and will also foster better partnerships with communities and organizations there.”

GAO REPORT: Bureau of Land Management: Agency’s Reorganization Efforts Did Not Substantially Address Key Practices for Effective Reforms.

“The Bureau of Land Management announced in 2019 that most of its employees in Washington, D.C., will be transferred to offices in western states. We assessed the bureau’s reorganization efforts against key practices for agency reforms. The bureau established goals for the reorganization, but did not establish performance measures. We also found that the bureau’s implementation plan did not include milestones, which would help ensure that the reforms are being achieved as intended and in a timely manner. We recommended that the bureau establish outcome-oriented performance measures to assess the effectiveness of the reorganization.”

“Based on the documents we reviewed, BLM partially addressed key reform practices for using data and evidence when developing reforms. (See fig. 4.) Specifically, in a draft white paper on the relocation of BLM’s headquarters to the West, dated May 16, 2019, BLM presented data and evidence on leasing rates, demographics, and lifestyle attributes in Washington, D.C., and four western locations. The white paper generally, but not always, included sources for the data it presented. However, it did not describe a methodology for choosing a location for BLM’s new headquarters. For example, it did not explain how information would be evaluated or how BLM would rank factors to select the preferred location. The white paper also noted BLM was working with Interior’s Office of Policy, Management, and Budget to create a report that analyzes the most suitable location for a western headquarters. However, as of February 20, 2020, BLM had not provided us such a report. Other documents included some discussion of potential costs and benefits but noted that more analysis was needed to make a determination. We requested this information, but as of February 20, 2020, BLM had not provided it to us.” Page 8

A librarian searched the DOI website including their FOIA page for the white paper mentioned in the GAO report without success and has initiated a FOIA request for it.

co-published on govdoc-l and freegovinfo.info.

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