Site Visit
Bureau of Land Management
April 27, 1999

Presenters: Carl Zulick, John Keith

NPR Representatives: Curt Marshall, Kathy Monahan, Eva Williams, Betsey Currie, Amy Hertz, Steve Rusczyk, Leslie Schwager

Organizational Background

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages over 264 million acres of land — about one-eighth of the land in the United States — and more than 560 million acres of subsurface mineral resources. Most of these lands are located in the West, including Alaska, and are dominated by extensive grasslands, forests, high mountains, arctic tundra, and deserts. The BLM is responsible for the management and use of a wide variety of resources on these lands, including energy and minerals, timber, forage, wild horse and burro populations, fish and wildlife habitat, recreation sites, wilderness areas, and archaeological and historical sites.

It is the mission of the Bureau of Land Management to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

Establishing a Balanced Set of Measures.

The BLM began implementing the GPRA requirements in 1994 by conducting a series of focus groups with stakeholders to determine what measures were important. From the initial set of discussion with the stakeholders, the BLM initiated a number of internal discussions with internal WO "Strategic Basket Leads" for each of the major program elements. In concert with the with the strategic plan development, the BLM initiated a customer research program in 1995 to gather internal and external customer requirements. The initial strategic plan and accompanying performance measures were developed in 1997 and included five strategic goal areas:

  • Serving Current and Future Publics
  • Maintaining Healthy Land
  • Promoting Collaborative Partnerships
  • Organizational Effectiveness
  • Human Resource Management

The original 65 performance indicators included measures of employee skills and training and overall customer satisfaction, plus traditional mission elements. The performance measures in the Service Current and Future Publics centered on providing products and services in concert with the agency’s mission. Of the original 65 performance measures, three were based on customer satisfaction, one-stop shopping, and employee learning.

Based on stakeholder, 1998 external and internal customer surveys, and continued internal discussions and employee feedback, the strategic plan and accompanying performance measures were revised in 1998 to reflect a simplification to eliminate the number of performance measures. The five original goal areas were reduced to three:

  • Serving Current and Future Publics
  • Maintaining Health Land
  • Creating an efficient and Effective Organization

The 1998 revision reduced the number or performance measures from 65 to 45. Of the 45 indicators, 20%, are based on our use customer survey results. The 2000 Annual Performance Plan proposed a balanced scorecard approach for the BLM. Although not included in the Annual Performance Plan, over 25 initiates are planned to address employee issues surrounding workload management, priority setting, management, communication, employee training, and sagging employee morale/satisfaction.

The previous data collection efforts and results indicated that focusing on the customers and employees were a strategic priority to ensure success in accomplishing the BLM’s mission. This strategic focus precipitated the development of the BLM’s balanced scorecard as proposed in the FY 2000 budget.

The BLM chose to modify the traditional "scorecard" to include a mission element that would provide a linkage to the day-to-day work. The Internal Processes quadrant was replaced by the "Maintain the Healthy Land" quadrant. The four quadrants of the BLM balanced scorecard are:

  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Employee Learning and Growth
  • Financial Management
  • Healthy Land

The key enabler for the BLM development of the balanced set of measures has been strong leadership from the Deputy Director (highest ranking career employee) in her current position and formerly in her position of Assistant Director for Business and Fiscal Resources.

The Strategic Basket Leads (WO Program Leads) and the field strategic planning/budget leads meet periodically to review the measures and systems. The Senior Executives have standing working groups to resolve agency wide strategic issues, approve and revise existing measures and goals, and integrate in the day-to-day processes. Employees and stakeholders are provided opportunities to review the measures and plans for comment after the work teams develop the draft plans and measures for GPRA reporting.

Establishing Accountability for a Balanced Set of Measures

The BLM chairs the Natural Resources Performance Forum with 16 other Federal land management agencies to coordinate cross-cutting issues-Government wide. The current effort is to develop a common goal for the implementation of the clean water initiative.

The SES performance evaluations are based on the strategic goal areas and often, lower level managers’ evaluations are based on the SES criteria. It is planned that SES and all manager appraisals will be based on the Strategic goals and supplemented by a 360 review focusing on a balanced set of measures-with emphasis on employees-for developmental purposes. With the advent of the Management Information System (MIS) all performance, budget, financial, Activity Based Costing (ABC), and customer research data is integrated into one system to drive accountability for the organizational goals, performance measures. The MIS is available to all employees and managers via the Intranet. The Director has recently established a "Dashboard" (Executive Report) of important performance measures that are tracked quarterly for progress and problem resolution based on the strategic goal areas and robust data elements.

Measuring Performance (Data Collection and Reporting)

Performance data is collected at the field level via the MIS (see discussion above). Each state is responsible for inputting the performance data that is available quarterly for Departmental reporting. Not all data systems-external to the MIS-are interconnected, but the next phase of the MIS will connect all other data systems into an integrated data system.

The data is analyzed by the Strategic Basket Leads and the WO program staffs. Supplemental analysis is done at the state level to assure data quality and auditibility prior to input into the MIS.

The results are communicated to stakeholders, customers, suppliers, partners, others, on a annual basis based on the required GPRA documents and a combined Annual report containing the performance and financial statements. The GPRA documents are made available on the Internet for external review and comment

Analyzing and Reviewing Performance Data

In-house staff (Strategic Basket Leads) and Contractors evaluate (for integration into the MIS) the data. The data is review and tracked via the MIS and the Director’s Dashboard for progress.

The biggest challenge has been in the culture accepting the concept and paradigm that employees and customers matter, and being accountable for results is part of their job and it matters.

Evaluating and Utilizing Performance Information and Performance Reporting to Customers and Stakeholders

Performance information is used to report progress on achieving the agency’s goals and to justify current year and future year budgets.

From the 1995 customer and employee surveys a number of organizational improvement were undertaken, including

  • Six reinvention laboratories accounting for over $100 million in cost avoidance and savings)
  • Reorganization of all offices from three tier to two tier
  • Establishment of 40 customer service standards
  • Establishment of annual customer and employee survey action plans
  • Initiation of the Service First partnership with the Forest Service to create a seamless approach to natural resources management (
  • One stop shopping for Federal recreation information (

Performance data is analyzed quarterly by the "Strategic basket leads and reviewed periodically by the Senior Executives in their standing work groups

The BLM has redesigned their budget process to integrate budget development, aligning/rewarding funding based on performance with the GPRA requirements. As such, resource allocations, resource strategies, and operational strategies are all influenced by the performance data. The redesign calls for a "spread" to the field one year prior to congressional actions, so as to be proactive in adjusting to changes in funding streams and building a better case for funding based on performance. This one-year in advance process allows for the negotiating between the field and the WO on achievable results to affect Congressional action.

Annual reports are distributed to all employees. The advent of the MIS has required all field offices to be involved in t he performance measurement activity. Coupled with the deployment of Activity Based Costing, all field units have been required to identify their processes for day-to-day work and assign a cost for that work. The processes are tied back to the performance measures and strategic goals via the MIS.

The BLM is also implementing a new national validation (evaluation) process that uses a balanced scorecard approach. Annually, at risk and identified programs are identified for evaluations. The self-assessment and validation process utilizes a methodology to support and encourage a balanced scorecard approach. Customer service and employee learning and growth are standard element of interviews and report documentation.

Based on the 1995 and 1998 employee survey results, the BLM has instituted the following organizational improvements:

  • New employee orientation program
  • Planned Managers’ University
  • Required annual hours of training for managers
  • Developing a set of core competencies for all advertised managers’ positions
  • Testing internal communication strategies
  • Establish a SES mentor program
  • Establish a 360-review process for developmental input for all managers and SESers

Linkages Between Strategic Plan and Resource Allocation

See above discussion of the integrated MIS system tying performance and financial system together in an intranet-based format.

The strategic goals are directly linked to the mission statement. The current set of performance measures does not, at this point, direct allocation of resources. The traditional subactivities that Congress appropriates from still dictates how resources are allocated. However, the BLM does cross-walked the strategic goals with subacivities to ease reporting requirements and show a causal link. The BLM collects approximately 300+ workload measures for all the subactivities to supplement the performance measures.

Of the BLM’s three strategic goal areas, two are related to the balanced scorecard: serving current and future publics and efficient and effective organization. The customer and the health of the land are explicit in the strategic plan and performance plan, while financial and employees are a sub-element of the performance measurement system. Funding for the employee and customer elements are taken off the top during the budget process and thus, are linked to the agency’s budget and strategic planning process

The BLM has established an annual 2-year cycle for customer surveys to assess progress on the customer related performance measures and an annual employee and customer survey response action plan requirement from all states. Starting in 1997, the BLM started using a common set of "Mission Accomplishment " questions for both their employees and customers. Each customer group can be tracked and analyzed by customer satisfaction as related to mission accomplishment. Coupled with the results from the employee survey using the same questions, a direct link can now be made with customer and employee satisfaction with mission accomplishment. For all customer groups, the BLM can document that as employee satisfaction increases so does customer satisfaction, often point for point for all major customer groups. This mirrors the finding of the private sector.

Next Steps

  • Full deployment of ABC, MIS, and 2001 strategic plan
  • Implement redesign of the Budget Process Reengineering
Lessons Learned

  • Cascading to the lower levels of t he organization takes time and a concerted effort.
  • Within the GPRA framework, The BLM has to retrofit the existing congressionally mandated system with the GPRA and strategic goal framework.
  • Customer and employee focus is not an easy sale to the traditional managers and leaders. Collecting data from customers is not seen as adding value and is political…which is not viewed as beneficial to the organization.
  • Strong leadership is key to implementation.
  • Using new technology to break down cultural barriers is the easiest way to make progress. However, caution must be utilized in using data and information to make punitive decisions

Best Practices

  • Use of an integrated, intranet based, management information system to capture, disseminate, and monitor performance and data.
  • Establishment of employee and external customer research capabilities and having causal baseline and trend information.
  • Implementing organizational improvements based on employee and customer data
  • Tying performance and budget requests and justifications to Congress based on performance information
  • Combining reports of performance to the public and Congress
  • Integrating program evaluation system with GPRA, Customer Research with a balanced measure approach
  • Adopting ABC as method to cost activities allowing full usage and leveraging of performance data with cost data to make decisions and facilitates the organizational learning of processes.
  • Linking Mission success via customer and employee survey to establish connection to balanced scorecard approach.

Carl Zulick
BLM Management Systems Group

John K. Keith
BLM Management Systems Group

NPR Home Page Search the NPR Site NPR Initiatives Site Index Calendar Comments Awards Links Tools Frequently Asked Questions Speeches News Releases Library Navigation Bar For NPR site