A government employee who stepped into a contractor's role is among the targets of a report criticizing contracting practices at the Bureau of Land Management. The audit stemmed from the OIG's prior discovery that BLM had made payments for costs that exceeded the amount agreed to in a contract and also for costs that the contractor incurred outside the period of performance.
The Bureau of Indian Education has a fragmented academic assessment process and unclear administrative roles, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs has no strategic plan for BIE or stakeholder communication strategy, finds a Sept. 24 Government Accountability Office report. Indian education could suffer as a result, say report authors.
Thousands of federal employees received their paycheck late because of a data entry error from the company that processes the government's payroll. A Sept. 13 statement (.pdf) from the Interior Department that was also sent out to the agencies affected says federal employees who would have received a paycheck Friday would get paid Sept. 17. About 40,000 federal employees across 23 agencies were affected.
An audit of the Interior Department's travel tracking system found significant weakness in the system's design that inhibited the department's ability to manage travel and adhere to federal regulations, a Sept. 9 Interior inspector general report says.
"Minimum acceptable standards need to be out there," even if states have their own regulations, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said. The Interior Department proposed a rule for fracking safety in May and has been working to finalize it. But Jewell said the department had yet to determine whether states themselves could receive variances or if companies would have to apply for each natural gas well.
The Park Police lost track of thousands of guns because of systemic internal control weaknesses, a June 27 Interior Department Inspector General report (.pdf) says. The IG review revealed that Park Police had no proper accounting for hundreds of weapons.
President Obama set new goals in a plan to address climate change June 25 including directing the Environmental Protection Agency to work with the states to establish carbon pollution standards and directing the Interior Department to permit renewable energy project on public lands by 2020, a White House fact sheet says.
A program to consolidate ownership of American Indian lands is underway, with the Interior Department announcing incentives for participation and plans for pilot efforts later this year. In 2009, the federal government agreed to pay $3.4 billion to settle a lawsuit over its management over American Indian trust funds. That included a $1.9 billion fund to buy back what's called fractionated land from tribal members.
The Bureau of Land Management may have lost $60 million in undervalued leases of public lands to coal mining companies because it used its own land value assessors rather than the ones ordered by an Interior Department regulation, a June 11 Interior Department inspector general report (.pdf) says.
"What we're seeing today is a product of the changing climate. Not only the longer fire season, but the record temperatures that we seem to set every year, the record low relative humidities we seem to set every year," said Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell.