Mineral Revenues: Funding for the Idaho Initiative Project

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1990-12-19.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

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                                             “ll.-“.”   I Ini(,td St,a(,es Gtbnt~ral Accounting   Office
                                                        Ik port t,o t I&! Honorable                                  *ul
GiO                                                     .Junes A. McClure, U.S. Senate

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                                                        Funding for the Idaho
                                                        Initiative Project


                                                    RESTRICTED--      Not to be released outside the
                                                    General Accounting Offh unless speclthlly
                                                    approved by the Office of Congressional

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                       United States
GAO                    General Accounting Office
                       Washington, D.C. 20648

                       Resources, Community, and
                       Economic Development Division

                       B-242 170

                       December 19,199O

                       The Honorable James A. McClure
                       United States Senate

                       Dear Senator McClure:

                       This report responds to your request that we trace fiscal year 1989
                       expenditures for certain mineral resource assessment studies, known as
                       the Idaho Initiative, by the Department of the Interior’s U.S. Geological
                       Survey (USGS).USGSroutinely conducts mineral resource assessments to
                       determine the potential for discovering minerals in the United States,
                       The USGSfiscal year 1989 appropriation included $24.5 million for min-
                       eral resource assessment studies, of which $1.5 million was to be used
                       for the first year of a $4.5 million, 3-year effort to conduct studies of
                       roadless and undeveloped federal lands in Idaho. Because $500,000 of
                       the $1.5 million was to be used by the state of Idaho’s Geological Survey,
                       we limited the scope of our work to the $1 million to be spent by USGSfor
                       the Idaho Initiative.

                       The Office of Mineral Resources within USGS'Geologic Division conducts
Accounting for Idaho   a National Mineral Resource Assessment Program to identify areas
Initiative Funds       having significant mineral potential. The office allocates funds appro-
                       priated for mineral resource assessments to its various branches on the
                       basis of approved study plans. Because the appropriations act language
                       did not require USGSto do otherwise, Idaho Initiative expenditures were
                       not accounted for separately from other mineral resource assessment
                       funds. Accordingly, we could not readily identify how all the funds
                       intended for the Idaho Initiative were spent. We found, however, that
                       uses developed study plans for spending these funds to conduct mineral
                       resource assessments in Idaho, allocated these funds on the basis of
                       these study plans, and issued or participated in producing several
                       reports on work done under the plans indicating that the approved
                       study plans were being implemented.

                       An Office of Mineral Resources official coordinated the planning of
                       Idaho Initiative studies and gathered study proposals from the Office’s
                       branches. After deducting $250,000 of the Idaho Initiative funding for
                       overhead expenses in accordance with USGSpolicy, the remaining
                       $750,000 was allocated among Office of Mineral Resources branches
                       along with other mineral resource assessment funds. When staff per-
                       formed work relating to the Idaho Initiative, they charged their time and

                       Page 1                                    GAO/RCED-91-50 Idaho Initiative   Project

              expenses to branch accounts set up for such things as technical support
              and scientific studies.

              Because Idaho Initiative funds were not accounted for separately, recon-
              structing how USGSspent the $1 million intended for the Idaho Initiative
              would be time-consuming and costly, resulting in, at best, only a rough
              estimate. Such an effort would require that all Office of Mineral
              Resources personnel be interviewed to estimate and document that por-
              tion of their work specifically related to the Idaho Initiative. Travel
              vouchers, time and attendance records, logs, notes, and documents pro-
              duced could only provide an estimate of the work done on the Idaho
              Initiative, and would still not provide an accurate accounting for the

              To attempt to trace the expenditure of funds for the Idaho Initiative, we
Scopeand      interviewed USGSheadquarters and field office officials. We also
Methodology   reviewed legislative and agency documents relating to the Idaho Initia-
              tive, as well as USGSOffice of Mineral Resources accounting documents.
              Because funds for the Idaho Initiative were not separately accounted
              for, and attempting to reconstruct specifically how these funds were
              spent would, at best, only result in a rough estimate, we did not perform
              such work, as agreed with your office. We conducted our review from
              July to August 1990 in accordance with generally accepted government
              auditing standards.

              As requested, we did not obtain formal agency comments on this report,
              However, we discussed the report’s contents with USGSheadquarters
              officials, who concurred in the facts presented.

              Unless you publicly announce the contents of the report earlier, we plan
              no further distribution of this report until 30 days from the date of this
              letter. At that time, we will send copies to interested parties and make
              copies available to others upon request.

              Page 2                                    GAO/WED-91-50 Idaho Initiative   Project

Please contact me at (202) 276-7766 if you or any of your staff have any
questions concerning this report. Major contributors to this report are
listed in appendix I.

Sincerely yours,

James Duffus III
Director, Natural Resources
  Management Issues

Page 3                                  GAO/RCED-9140 Idaho Initiative   Project
Appendix I

Major Contributors to This Report

                       Robert W. Wilson, Assistant Director
Resources,             Leonard W. Ellis, Evaluator-in-Charge
Community,and          Loren W. Setlow, Senior Geologist

(MwA6!4)               Page 4                                  GAO/RCED-91-60 Idaho Initiative Project

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