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CRS — Administrative Appeals in the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service

October 28, 2013 Comments off

Administrative Appeals in the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Merit Systems Protection Board Watch)

Congress has expressed an interest in the appeals processes of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Forest Service because of those processes’ complexity, and because of allegations that the appeals processes have restricted the ability of the agencies to manage the resources under their care. In 2011, Congress changed the project review process from one that provided for automatic stays and multiple levels of review to a pre-decisional objection process (P.L. 112-74, §428). In amending the 1992 Forest Service Decisionmaking and Appeals Reform Act process, Congress aimed to expedite agency review. The changes took effect in March 2013.

Administrative appeals are challenges to agency actions that agencies attempt to resolve themselves. Agencies set up hearing processes and regulations to meet the requirements guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution—that no person will be deprived of property without the due process of the law. This report describes the appeals processes of the BLM of the Department of the Interior (DOI), and the Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture. These appeals are not all formal adjudicatory proceedings under the Administrative Procedure Act (although some have similar procedures), but are defined primarily by agency regulation.

BLM has many different types of administrative appeals. The type of appeal depends, in large part, on the type of action taken by BLM. Decisions regarding land use plans have one type of review that differs slightly for challenges by governors. Decisions regarding minerals, oil and gas, forests, and grazing have different appeals processes, sometimes even having different processes within those categories. Many, but not all, BLM decisions have a final agency review by an appeals board under the Department of the Interior. Sometimes the final review is completed by an Administrative Law Judge.

The Forest Service also has multiple types of reviews, although it does not have an appeals board or Administrative Law Judges. For the most part, Forest Service administrative appeals are based on the type of decision being challenged. Forest plans have one process. Projects implementing those plans have a pre-decisional appeal known as an objection. Decisions regarding use and occupancy of forests have yet another appeals process, which differs depending on the level of employee who made the decision being challenged. Congress also has exempted many projects deemed emergency situations from administrative review.

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New From the GAO

September 23, 2013 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Oil and Gas Development: BLM Needs Better Data to Track Permit Processing Times and Prioritize Inspections. GAO-13-572, August 23.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-572
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/657177.pdf

2. Corporate Tax Compliance: IRS Should Determine Whether Its Streamlined Corporate Audit Process Is Meeting Its Goals. GAO-13-662, August 22.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-662
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/657093.pdf

3. National Airspace System: Improved Budgeting Could Help FAA Better Determine Future Operations and Maintenance Priorities. GAO-13-693, August 22.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-693
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/657139.pdf

4. Automatic IRAS: Lower-Earning Households Could Realize Increases in Retirement Income. GAO-13-699, August 23.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-699
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/657172.pdf

Caring for America’s Wild Horses and Burros: undamental reforms, an overview

June 10, 2011 Comments off

Caring for America’s Wild Horses and Burros: undamental reforms, an overview (PDF)
Source: Bureau of Land Management

In October 2009, the Secretary of the Interior announced a national initiative to create a cost-efficient and sustainable Wild Horse and Burro Program. Over time, implementation of the Secretary’s initiative would reduce the number of unadopted wild horses and burros in short-term corrals or long-term pastures; reduce the costs to the American taxpayer for their care; and conserve, protect, and manage these iconic animals in the West for future generations to enjoy.

The Secretary’s Initiative provided a starting point for a conversation with the public about the management of America’s wild horses and burros. The BLM understands that many Americans are passionate about wild horses and burros and have many different, often conflicting, perspectives about how they should be managed. In an effort to bridge these differences, the BLM worked with the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution to engage employees, stakeholders, and potential partners in the development of a proposed strategy.

On June 3, 2010, the BLM released a Wild Horse and Burro Program Strategy Development Document for review and comment. The document outlined draft goals, objectives, and possible management actions for the wild horse and burro program. In response, the BLM received approximately 9,000 comment letters and e-mails.

As a result of these public comments, the BLM is proposing fundamental changes for managing wild horses and burros to improve on-the-range-management of the animals, strengthen measures to ensure the humane treatment and care of wild horses and burros, and provide increased opportunities for public- private partnerships in support of the program.

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