Accumulated vegetation, the proximity of communities to wildfire-prone areas, human-caused ignitions and the high cost of response emerge as the four national challenges identified in wildfire strategy the Obama administration released earlier this month.
The Interior Department is develping an agencywide way of looking at the the environmental impacts of developing federal land rather than continuing the reactive, case-by-case approach the agency has employed in the past. The DOI is responsible for the conservation and management of fish and wildlife resources on federal lands including the impact when developing those lands. It wants an approach to project planning that can be used across its 9 bureaus.
The Interior Department doesn't know if it's getting fair market value for the minerals it permits private firms to remove from federal lands because staffers are using outdated price lists, an April 3 DOI inspector general report says. DOI's Bureau of Land Management manages the sale of mineral materials on federal lands and is responsible for ensuring that the government obtains adequate compensation for the sales of minerals.
Agencies with large property holdings are failing to assess security risks at their combined 52,000 facilities across the country, a recently released Government Accountability Office report says.
House Natural Resources members criticized President Obama's budget request for the Interior Department for not prioritizing programs or making spending reductions.
Indian Affairs programs received a 1.2 percent increase over the enacted amoun this year in President Obama's fiscal 2015 budget request.
Agencies have recourse to alternative funding methods for federal building projects such as property swaps and space offered for lease when appropriations aren't available, says a March 12 Government Accountability Office report.
Federal oil and gas inspectors will likely always earn less than the private sector engineers they oversee, DOI Deputy Assistant Secretary Ned Farquhar told the House Natural Resources Committee subcommittee on energy and mineral resources in a Feb. 27 hearing. Office of Personnel Management data show the fiscal year 2012 attrition rate for petroleum engineers at BLM was more than 20 percent.
The White House federal budget request for the coming fiscal year will include a proposal to establish a new wildfire fighting fund for the departments of Interior and Agriculture, the New York Times reports.
Higher salaries in the oil and gas industry are luring employees away from the Interior Department and the agency can't retain staff with the appropriate skills, a recently released Jan. 31 Government Accountability Office report says. Office of Personnel Management data show the fiscal year 2012 attrition rate for petroleum engineers at BLM came in at over 20 percent – more than double the average federal attrition rate of 9.1 percent.