Created in 1849, the Department of the Interior's (DOI) primary mission is to provide stewardship and management of federal lands and natural resources. As the nation's principal conservation agency, DOI has jurisdiction over approximately 450 million acres of public lands which include national parks and monuments, national wildlife refuges, Indian trust territories, and other protected areas.
To accomplish its current missions, DOI has approximately 77,000 full-time employees located at more than 700 U.S. sites and an operating budget of about $7.58 billion for fiscal year 1994. Prior to 1987, DOI collected more in revenue, primarily from offshore oil and gas leases, than it spent.
Several DOI issues involve stripping away barriers that prevent effective, efficient governance; eliminating federal micromanagement of state and local government; or managing across agency lines through boundary-spanning mechanisms. For example, to address health and safety threats and environmental damage caused by toxic metal and chemical leaching from abandoned mines, the federal government should establish a hard rock mine reclamation fund.
Federal oversight of coal mine regulation should be redefined to overcome organizational problems that inhibit an effective state-federal relationship. Using a system of national standards of excellence for regulatory and reclamation programs, establishing goals, performance measures, and an evaluation process, the federal government can improve oversight, develop an appropriate organizational structure, and better evaluate state programs.
By supporting a cross-agency coordina-ting effort, the federal government can, for example, develop a coherent vision for the national spatial data infrastructure (NSDI), which is essential to critical environmental analysis on endangered species and wetlands. Other cross-agency efforts include the need for the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture and the Director of OMB to modify the process for determining land acquisition priorities and procedures. DOI could then establish a comprehensive pilot program to coordinate the administration of selected federal lands based on principles of ecosystem management.
The National Park Service (NPS) needs to find new revenues through entrepreneurial management of national parks. By embracing an entrepreneurial management strategy - including reforming the nature, level, and collection of fees; updating concession contracts; and increasing voluntary partnerships - the NPS would enhance the public's enjoyment of the parks and protect them for future generations. Further, reforms are needed to guarantee a fair return for federal resources such as livestock grazing, hard rock mining, and communications sites.
Better management of DOI's royalty collection program would increase revenues and improve efficiency in DOI's $4.7 million Royalty Management Program (RMP). The RMP should proceed with a vigorous program of compliance verification, develop new computer programs to analyze transactions, and identify and adopt new methods to simplify royalty reporting.
A change in management philosophy, empowerment of workers, and a cultural transformation is needed to address bureaucratic barriers at DOI. Many of the emerging issues in the department, such as ecosystem management, will require integrated, cross-cutting management approaches. A system of personnel exchanges and in-house contracts across bureau boundaries will help develop cooperative approaches to departmental problems, encourage employee movement, and provide incentives for innovation. In addition, to manage its bureaus effectively, DOI needs to reduce duplicative services.
The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) should redefine its mission toward new environmental priorities. As its traditional construction mission ends, BOR must clarify its proper federal role in water management and devolve secondary support functions to state and local authorities. BOR must assist in defining the federal policy for water management in the West and maintain a leadership role in managing completed projects. By the beginning of fiscal year 1995, BOR should develop a new mission which assumes a leadership role in western water policy and focuses on water management functions.
The federal government also needs to reexamine its role in such programs as the federal helium program. To obtain maximum benefit from helium operations, the federal government should cancel the helium debt, reduce costs and increase efficiencies in helium operations, and increase sales of crude helium as market conditions permit.
Moreover, the DOI should integrate skills across bureau boundaries in the remediation of its hazardous materials (HAZMAT) sites. The high cost of HAZMAT remediation requires DOI to make maximum use of existing resources. Managerial and scientific expertise should be integrated in cooperative, cross- bureau efforts to assess and remediate HAZMAT sites designated as pilot projects. Furthermore, a legal strike force should be established by the end of 1994 to address legal barriers to cleanup.
The most important benefits of implementing the reinvention recommendations cannot be quantified at this time. Improved customer service, greater efficiency, and a better work environment will be the ultimate rewards. Of the benefits that can be quantified, implementing these recommendations would collectively result in $1,605.7 million in new revenues, $277.5 million in new budget authority, and a reduction of 1,471 full-time equivalents over six years.
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