oversight

Land Management Agencies: Information on Selected Administrative Policies and Practices

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-02-11.

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

                 United States General Accounting Office

GAO              Report to the Chairman, Committee on
                 Appropriations, U.S. Senate



February 1997
                 LAND MANAGEMENT
                 AGENCIES
                 Information on
                 Selected
                 Administrative Policies
                 and Practices




GAO/RCED-97-40
      United States
GAO   General Accounting Office
      Washington, D.C. 20548

      Resources, Community, and
      Economic Development Division

      B-275732

      February 11, 1997

      The Honorable Ted Stevens
      Chairman, Committee on
        Appropriations
      United States Senate

      Dear Mr. Chairman:

      The federal government owns and manages approximately 650 million
      acres of land in the United States—over a quarter of the nation’s total land
      area. Ninety-six percent of the federal land is managed by four agencies:
      the National Park Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of
      Land Management, all within the Department of the Interior; and the
      Forest Service, within the Department of Agriculture.

      Each of the four agencies has its own unique mission and responsibilities
      for the lands and resources under its jurisdiction. The Park Service is
      responsible for preserving and protecting 78 million acres of the nation’s
      land, which include national parks. The Fish and Wildlife Service manages
      87.5 million acres for the conservation and protection of fish and wildlife.
      Both the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service support a
      variety of uses of the lands that they administer, including recreation,
      timber harvesting, livestock grazing, and the production of minerals.

      In fiscal year 1995, the four agencies employed over 75,000
      full-time-equivalent employees. Combined, the agencies received new
      budget authority in excess of $8 billion. They provide some of their
      employees with rental housing, authority to use the agency’s vehicles, and
      allowances to buy uniforms; the agencies also encourage and pay for some
      employees to move to different geographic locations during their careers.

      Concerned about the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the
      administrative functions performed by these four agencies, you (in your
      former capacity as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Governmental
      Affairs) asked us to compare their policies and practices pertaining to
      (1) the reasons for and the costs of field-unit managers’ geographic
      relocations;1 (2) the authorization for and the quantity and condition of
      employees’ rental housing; (3) the requirements for providing employees’
      uniforms and the expenditures for them; and (4) the authorizations for


      1
       In a separate review, we are assessing relocation practices and costs governmentwide and expect to
      issue our report in the spring of 1997.



      Page 1                                             GAO/RCED-97-40 Land Management Agencies
                   B-275732




                   employees’ home-to-work travel in their agency’s vehicles. Additionally,
                   you asked us to compare the processes by which the Bureau of Land
                   Management and the Forest Service issue grazing permits and to highlight
                   the similarities and differences between the two agencies’ grazing
                   programs.2


                   Only the Forest Service has written policies expressing the value and
Results in Brief   necessity of relocating employees if they hold or aspire to hold managerial
                   positions. However, the importance of relocating employees is an
                   unwritten tenet of the other three agencies’ culture. According to the four
                   agencies’ managers, relocations are encouraged because they allow
                   employees to gain experience by working in different geographic areas
                   and with different kinds of people and because relocations also infuse
                   agencies’ units with fresh ideas. Managers also cited disadvantages to
                   relocations, including hardships on families and disruptions in managers’
                   efforts to gain the trust of local communities. During October 1, 1991,
                   through June 30, 1996, the four agencies reported spending about
                   $8.4 million to relocate about 380 managers. (See app. I for more
                   information on the four agencies’ policies and practices on employee
                   relocations.)

                   Federal law authorizes agencies to grant housing to employees who must
                   live on the land to provide services or protect property or to grant housing
                   if it is not available within a reasonable commuting distance; the four
                   agencies’ policies follow these criteria. According to a database of the
                   government’s rental housing maintained by Interior’s Bureau of
                   Reclamation, the four agencies had 11,464 housing units (ranging from
                   houses to tents) as of January 1997. Most of these units were somewhat
                   deteriorated or needed routine maintenance, although some needed major
                   repairs or replacement. The agencies estimated that about $470.2 million
                   would eliminate their backlog of rehabilitation, repair, and replacement
                   needs for their housing units. (See app. II for more information on the four
                   agencies’ policies and practices on employee housing and for a summary
                   of previous GAO and Inspector General reports addressing employee
                   housing.)

                   All four agencies believe that their employees should be easily identified,
                   and all four have policies requiring or authorizing employees to wear
                   uniforms. Each agency provides employees who are required or

                   2
                    Your office also expressed interest in our ongoing review of opportunities at Interior to reduce costs
                   by consolidating telecommunications services. We expect to issue our report on this subject in the
                   spring of 1997.



                   Page 2                                               GAO/RCED-97-40 Land Management Agencies
                  B-275732




                  authorized to wear uniforms with an initial allowance (limited to $400 by
                  federal law) and a subsequent replacement allowance (up to $400
                  annually, depending on the agency) to purchase uniforms. For fiscal year
                  1995, the four agencies reported spending about $8.6 million on uniforms
                  for about 44,000 employees. (See app. III for more information on the four
                  agencies’ policies and practices regarding employees’ uniforms.)

                  Federal regulations limit the use of agencies’ vehicles for home-to-work
                  travel to high-level officials, employees engaged in field work, and other
                  employees in specific circumstances. The agencies’ policies specify that
                  only their Department’s Secretary may authorize the use of an agency’s
                  vehicles for home-to-work travel and that such authorizations must be
                  based on the increased efficiency and economy of government operations.
                  In practice, the three Interior agencies—the Bureau of Land Management,
                  Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service—have authorized the
                  home-to-work use of their vehicles for law enforcement personnel
                  predominately (although the agencies have also authorized such use for
                  emergencies or for travel to multiple locations during a day’s work).
                  Forest Service officials did not have information readily available on their
                  authorizations of the use of the agency’s vehicles for home-to-work travel
                  because decision-making and record keeping in this regard are
                  decentralized. (See app. IV for more information on the four agencies’
                  policies and practices regarding the use of their vehicles and for a
                  summary of previous GAO reports addressing such use.)

                  The Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service follow similar
                  processes in issuing permits to ranchers to graze their livestock on federal
                  lands, and both agencies charge the same grazing fees according to a
                  formula set forth in law. Differences exist, however, in the two programs’
                  authorizing legislation, requirements regarding the ownership of land and
                  livestock, and conditions for transferring grazing privileges (e.g., upon the
                  death of a permittee or the sale of a permittee’s land). (See app. V for more
                  information on the similarities and differences in the two agencies’
                  processes for issuing grazing permits and for a summary of previous GAO
                  reports addressing livestock grazing on federal lands.)


                  We provided the Forest Service and Interior with a draft of this report for
Agency Comments   their review and comment. In commenting on the report, a program
                  coordinator at the Forest Service’s Personnel Management Branch
                  suggested technical clarifications that we incorporated as appropriate.




                  Page 3                                 GAO/RCED-97-40 Land Management Agencies
              B-275732




              In written comments, Interior provided us with a revised estimate from the
              Park Service of the cost to clear the backlog of repair, rehabilitation, and
              replacement needs of employee housing in the Service. In addition,
              Interior said that it is moving forward with an initiative to identify funding
              alternatives for the repair, rehabilitation, and replacement of employee
              housing in the Park Service. (See app. VI.) We incorporated this
              information in our report. Finally, Interior provided us with updated
              budget and employment data for the Bureau of Land Management and Fish
              and Wildlife Service. However, we did not use these data because Interior
              did not provide comparable information for the Park Service.


              We obtained most of the information presented in this report from
Scope and     interviews with headquarters officials who are responsible for and/or
Methodology   cognizant of their agency’s policies on employee relocation, housing,
              uniforms, and home-to-work travel in their agency’s vehicles. We also
              reviewed agencies’ policies, cost information, and other relevant
              documents provided by these officials. When applicable, we also obtained
              and reviewed federal statutes and regulations.

              To identify the number and costs of field-unit managers’ relocations, we
              asked each agency to tell us how many times the top manager had
              changed from October 1, 1991, through June 30, 1996, and the reasons for
              those changes for the following field units: (1) the Park Service’s national
              parks, national monuments, and comparable units; (2) the Fish and
              Wildlife Service’s refuges; (3) the Bureau of Land Management’s resource
              areas; and (4) the Forest Service’s national forests. We also randomly
              selected and interviewed 13 managers of these field units to obtain their
              views on the benefits and disadvantages of relocations.

              For information on housing, uniforms, and vehicles for employees, we
              interviewed cognizant officials at each agency to obtain information on the
              agency’s current practices. We relied on the data that the officials provided
              us with regarding the estimated costs to maintain, repair, or replace
              housing units; the expenditure of allowances for uniforms; and the number
              of employees authorized to use their agency’s vehicles for home-to-work
              travel. For all four agencies, we obtained information on the number of
              housing units and their condition from the centralized database managed
              by Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation.

              As you requested, we limited our review of the processes by which grazing
              permits are issued to two agencies: the Bureau of Land Management and



              Page 4                                 GAO/RCED-97-40 Land Management Agencies
B-275732




the Forest Service. We interviewed officials who are responsible for their
respective agency’s grazing programs at the two agencies’ headquarters, at
the Bureau’s Colorado State Office, and at the Forest Service’s Rocky
Mountain Regional Office (Region 2) in Colorado. We also visited the
Bureau’s Uncompahgre Basin Resource Area Office and the Forest
Service’s Ouray District Office, which are located in Montrose, Colorado,
to interview grazing program officials on the grazing permit process and
review grazing permit files.

We conducted our review from August 1996 through January 1997 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. We
did not independently verify or test the reliability of the data provided by
the agencies.


As arranged with your office, unless you publicly announce its contents
earlier, we plan no further distribution of this report until 7 days after the
date of this letter. At that time, we will send copies to the Ranking
Minority Member of the Committee, the Chairman and Ranking Minority
Member of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, and the
Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior. We will make copies available
to others on request.

If you or you staff have any questions, please call me at (202) 512-9775.
Major contributors to this report appear in appendix VII.

Sincerely yours,




Barry T. Hill
Associate Director, Energy, Resources,
  and Science Issues




Page 5                                  GAO/RCED-97-40 Land Management Agencies
Contents



Letter                                                                                            1


Appendix I                                                                                        8

Employee Relocations
Appendix II                                                                                      10

Housing
Appendix III                                                                                     16

Uniforms
Appendix IV                                                                                      19

Vehicles
Appendix V                                                                                       22

Grazing Programs
Appendix VI                                                                                      24
                        GAO’s Comments                                                           25
Comments From the
Department of the
Interior
Appendix VII                                                                                     26

Major Contributors to
This Report
Tables                  Table I.1: Relocation Costs for Land Unit Managers, October 1,            9
                          1991, Through June 30, 1996
                        Table II.1: Housing Units Owned, by Agency                               11
                        Table II.2: Types of Units in Agencies’ Housing Inventories              12
                        Table II.3: Condition of Rental Housing                                  13
                        Table II.4: Agencies’ Estimated Costs to Clear                           14
                          Repair/Rehabilitation/Replacement Backlog
                        Table III.1: Uniform Accounts and Expenditures, Fiscal Year 1995         16




                        Page 6                               GAO/RCED-97-40 Land Management Agencies
Contents




Table III.2: Initial and Replacement Allowance Amounts, by             17
  Agency
Table IV.1: Home-to-Work Vehicle Authorizations by Employee            20
  Type, as of November 1996




Abbreviations

BLM        Bureau of Land Management
FS         Forest Service
FWS        Fish and Wildlife Service
GAO        General Accounting Office
NPS        National Park Service
OMB        Office of Management and Budget


Page 7                             GAO/RCED-97-40 Land Management Agencies
Appendix I

Employee Relocations


              Although only the Forest Service (FS) has policies pertaining to employee
              relocations, the four land management agencies that we reviewed—the
              National Park Service (NPS), the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the
              Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and FS—have similar practices. Of the
              four agencies, only FS currently has written policies that express the value
              and necessity of “mobility” (i.e., the willingness to relocate) for employees
              who hold or aspire to hold managerial positions at the agency. However,
              the managers we interviewed from the other three agencies said that at
              their agency as well, employee mobility is a tenet of the corporate culture
              and that employees believe that they may have to relocate if they wish to
              move ahead in the organization.

              We asked the agencies for information on turnovers in the top
              management positions at certain field offices during October 1, 1991,
              through June 30, 1996.1 According to the agencies’ responses, there were
              428 turnovers. Of those, 253 (59 percent) came about because the previous
              manager either had been promoted or reassigned. Furthermore, 371
              (87 percent) of those who filled a land unit manager vacancy relocated to
              do so.

              The four agencies also reported spending about $8.4 million to relocate
              384 land unit managers from October 1, 1991, through June 30, 1996.2
              According to an Interior official, the cost of these relocations is just a
              small part of the cost of all relocations. Agency officials said that the cost
              of relocating an employee can be quite high—sometimes $50,000 or more.
              Table I.1 shows the total and average costs reported by the four agencies
              to relocate land unit managers from October 1, 1991, through June 30,
              1996.




              1
               The management positions that we were interested in were those of “land unit managers,” such as
              park superintendents, refuge managers, resource area managers, and forest supervisors.
              2
               This information was taken from agencies’ financial records, whereas the data reported in the prior
              paragraph were taken from personnel or other agency records. Because the agencies reported the
              number of managers relocated as 371 and 384, our letter states “about 380” managers relocated.



              Page 8                                              GAO/RCED-97-40 Land Management Agencies
                                       Appendix I
                                       Employee Relocations




Table I.1: Relocation Costs for Land
Unit Managers, October 1, 1991,                               Number of land unit           Average cost per
Through June 30, 1996                  Agency                   managers moved                        move                     Total cost
                                                                                                                a
                                       NPS                                       153                   $15,156                $2,318,920a
                                       FWS                                       129                    24,502                 3,160,761
                                       BLM                                        46                    18,112                    833,137
                                       FS                                         56                    36,863                 2,064,350
                                       Total                                     384b                  $21,816                $8,377,168
                                       a
                                        Amounts exclude costs incurred by NPS when employees sold their house through a contracted
                                       relocation service. This cost may have been a flat fee (about $13,000 per house), or a percentage
                                       of the house’s value (ranging from about 13 to about 26 percent), depending on the location and
                                       value of the house.
                                       b
                                        This total does not represent the 371 managers that the agencies reported as relocated during
                                       this same period because the agencies’ data included in this table were taken from financial
                                       records, whereas the previous data were from personnel or other agency records.

                                       Source: Agencies’ data.



                                       Managers from all four agencies spoke of the many benefits that
                                       relocations offer—both to the individual and the agency— as well as the
                                       numerous disadvantages they bring. Among the benefits they cited was the
                                       infusion of new ideas into a land unit, thus preventing the unit’s
                                       management from becoming too parochial. Relocations also provide
                                       managers with a variety of experiences in different geographic areas and
                                       with different types of people.

                                       The managers also cited numerous disadvantages to relocations. Several
                                       mentioned the hardship on families—for example, the disruption of the
                                       children’s schooling and the spouse’s career. Additionally, several spoke
                                       about the time it takes for managers to gain the trust of local communities
                                       and how relocations can disrupt that trust. For example, one manager
                                       said: “Local communities are totally dependant on the federal lands and
                                       rely on the government to make wise decisions regarding the land.
                                       However, these communities do not form trusting relationships with
                                       federal managers very quickly.”




                                       Page 9                                             GAO/RCED-97-40 Land Management Agencies
Appendix II

Housing


                  NPS, FWS, BLM,and FS have similar policies and practices governing the
                  provision of rental housing. These policies and practices are based on the
                  various laws and administrative guidance that set eligibility requirements
                  and are based on how rental fees are calculated. Each of the agencies
                  reported having a backlog of housing repair, rehabilitation, and
                  replacement work and reported that the estimated combined cost of
                  eliminating the backlog is about $470.2 million.

                  According to applicable laws,1 federal agencies are authorized to provide
                  seasonal employees with housing when necessary and provide permanent
                  employees with housing when the agencies determine that

              •   employees must live on the federal land to render necessary visitor
                  services or to protect government property or
              •   present and prospective housing are not available for sale or rent within a
                  reasonable commuting distance.

                  Agencies’ policies also require that the need for rental housing be
                  examined annually and, absent adequate justification, excess housing be
                  removed from the housing inventory. The annual reexamination of
                  housing needs is required because changes can occur in the viability of
                  local real estate markets. For example, a park that has been classified as
                  “isolated” may have become less so because of population increases in
                  nearby communities.

                  Also, each agency is subject to the provisions of Circular A-45, issued by
                  the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). This circular, dated
                  October 20, 1993, sets out criteria for agencies to use in establishing rental
                  rates. Generally, agencies’ rental rates

              •   should be based on reasonable value; that is, they should be set at levels
                  equal to those prevailing in comparable private housing located in the
                  same area and
              •   may not be set to provide tenants with a housing subsidy, serve as an
                  inducement in recruiting or retaining employees, or encourage the
                  occupancy of existing government housing.

                  All four of the agencies participate in a multiagency program administered
                  by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation. The program
                  establishes base rental rates for government rental housing, conducts

                  1
                  The Federal Employees Quarters and Facilities Act of 1964 (P.L. 88-459) and the Government
                  Organization and Employees Act of 1966 (P.L. 89-554).



                  Page 10                                           GAO/RCED-97-40 Land Management Agencies
                                      Appendix II
                                      Housing




                                      surveys of regional housing markets, and uses statistical programs to
                                      establish base rental rates. These rates are derived from the consideration
                                      of many factors, such as the housing’s location, type, age, size, and
                                      condition. Once the base rental rates are established, OMB’s guidance
                                      requires agencies’ managers to administratively reduce rents for isolated
                                      (i.e., remote) locations and allows further reductions for a variety of other
                                      factors, including the inadequacy or absence of standard amenities (e.g.,
                                      street lighting, sidewalks, and reliable utilities). Adjustments are also made
                                      to account for the presence or absence of features such as fireplaces,
                                      garages, or central air conditioning.

                                      The Bureau of Reclamation also maintains a database of government
                                      rental quarters—the Quarters Management Information System. This
                                      database contains comprehensive information on the participating
                                      agencies’ rental housing, including the number of housing units and the
                                      housing’s type, location, square footage, number of bedrooms and
                                      bathrooms, age, and interior and exterior condition. Table II.1 shows the
                                      number of housing units owned by the four agencies.

Table II.1: Housing Units Owned, by
Agency                                Agency                                                                                Housing units
                                      NPS                                                                                              5,401
                                      FWS                                                                                                757
                                      BLM                                                                                                252
                                      FS                                                                                               5,054
                                      Total                                                                                          11,464
                                      Note: Although we obtained this information in January 1997, agency officials told us that not all of
                                      the data in the source database were current as of that date. Nonetheless, they are the most
                                      current data available at this time.

                                      Source: Bureau of Reclamation’s Quarters Management Information System database, as of
                                      January 1997.



                                      For the four land management agencies we reviewed, the number and type
                                      of rental housing varied widely. Table II.2 shows the agencies’ rental
                                      housing, by type.




                                      Page 11                                             GAO/RCED-97-40 Land Management Agencies
                                          Appendix II
                                          Housing




Table II.2: Types of Units in Agencies’
Housing Inventories                       Housing unit                                       Number of units
                                          category                     NPS              FWS              BLM                 FS            Total
                                          House                       2,828              624                54            2,063            5,569
                                          Apartment                     971                11                2              141            1,125
                                          Cabin                         338                 9               10              292              649
                                          Mobile home                   573                41               21              613            1,248
                                          Travel trailer                 47                11                1              134              193
                                          Dormitory/
                                          bunkhouse                     197                23              152            1,062            1,434
                                          Temporarya                       0               15                2               12                   29
                                          Trailer pad                   373                23               10              734            1,140
                                          Tent                           74                 0                0                 1                  75
                                                                                                                                b
                                          Total                       5,401              757               252            5,052           11,462b
                                          Note: Although we obtained this information in January 1997, agency officials told us that not all of
                                          the data in the source database were current as of that date. Nonetheless, they are the most
                                          current data available at this time.
                                          a
                                            Temporary housing uses construction methods or materials resulting in a useful life that is
                                          substantially less than that of houses built by standard construction, e.g., certain types of modular
                                          housing.
                                          b
                                          These column totals include two housing units that FS did not have categorized by type.

                                          Source: Bureau of Reclamation’s Quarters Management Information System database, as of
                                          January 1997.



                                          Similarly, the condition of the rental housing and cost estimates for
                                          needed repair, rehabilitation, and replacement vary across agencies. Table
                                          II.3 describes the housing’s condition.




                                          Page 12                                               GAO/RCED-97-40 Land Management Agencies
                                          Appendix II
                                          Housing




Table II.3: Condition of Rental Housing
                                                                       Percent of total inventory in each category of condition
                                          Condition                           NPS                 FWS                  BLM                      FS
                                          Interior
                                            Excellent                           8.5                  2.3                  8.3                   7.6
                                            Good                              45.6                 46.0                 36.4                  40.6
                                            Fair                              33.5                 47.5                 40.9                  41.5
                                            Poor                              12.1                   4.0                14.0                    9.6
                                            Obsolete                            0.3                  0.1                  0.4                   0.7
                                          Exterior
                                            Excellent                           8.0                  1.9                  8.3                   8.9
                                            Good                              41.2                 50.4                 37.6                  40.9
                                            Fair                              37.1                 42.9                 44.2                  40.3
                                            Poor                              13.5                   4.6                  9.9                   9.5
                                            Obsolete                            0.2                  0.1                    0                   0.5
                                          Note: This table, unlike tables II.1 and II.2, excludes trailer pads and tents—units for which no
                                          information on their condition is maintained in the database.

                                          In describing the condition of their inventory, the agencies use nearly the same criteria: excellent
                                          means like new; good means that routine maintenance, like painting, is necessary; fair means that
                                          early signs of reversible deterioration (like leaking roofs or inadequate electrical service) are
                                          present; poor means that major repairs are needed because of marginal structural integrity; and
                                          obsolete usually means beyond economic rehabilitation.

                                          Although we obtained this information in January 1997, agency officials told us that not all of the
                                          data in the source database were current as of that date. Nonetheless, they are the most current
                                          data available at this time.

                                          Source: Bureau of Reclamation’s Quarters Management Information System database, as of
                                          January 1997.



                                          We asked the four agencies to provide us with cost estimates for
                                          eliminating the existing backlog of their inventory’s need for repair,
                                          rehabilitation, or replacement. Two of the agencies—BLM and FS—told us
                                          that the estimates we reported in an August 1994 report were still the most
                                          current information available.2 NPS and FWS officials provided us with the
                                          requested data. Table II.4 shows these estimates.




                                          2
                                            National Park Service: Reexamination of Employee Housing Program Is Needed (GAO/RCED-94-284,
                                          Aug. 30, 1994).



                                          Page 13                                              GAO/RCED-97-40 Land Management Agencies
                                        Appendix II
                                        Housing




Table II.4: Agencies’ Estimated Costs
to Clear                                Dollars in millions
Repair/Rehabilitation/Replacement       Agency                                                                 Estimated backlog cost
Backlog
                                        NPS                                                                                        $300.0
                                        FWS                                                                                           13.2
                                        BLM                                                                                               8.0
                                        FS                                                                                          149.0
                                        Total                                                                                      $470.2
                                        Source: Agency officials.



                                        In a 1993 report, we found that NPS had adequately justified the need for
                                        about 88 percent of its housing but questioned its justification for the
                                        remaining 12 percent of its housing inventory.3 As a result, we
                                        recommended that NPS reassess the need for all permanent housing and
                                        consider alternative funding methods to meet its housing needs. In
                                        response to our recommendations, NPS made a new housing needs
                                        assessment a critical element of each park’s housing management plan
                                        (which must be reviewed and revised every 2 years) and now requires that
                                        the needs assessment be completed before funds are spent on new
                                        construction, major repairs or rehabilitation, or trailer replacement
                                        projects. Also, NPS worked with the Congress to pass legislation
                                        authorizing NPS to enter into alternative arrangements with developers or
                                        others for the provision of employee housing. In November 1996, the
                                        Omnibus Parks and Public Lands Management Act (P.L. 104-333) was
                                        enacted to, among other things, address concerns about the adequacy and
                                        cost of NPS’ housing. Among other things, the act is intended to expand the
                                        alternatives available for the construction and repair of essential NPS
                                        housing and to ensure that adequate funds are available to provide for the
                                        long-term maintenance needs of NPS’ field employee housing. In
                                        commenting on a draft of this report, Interior stated that it is moving
                                        forward with an initiative to identify funding alternatives for the repair,
                                        rehabilitation, and replacement of employee housing in accordance with
                                        this act.

                                        In a January 1996 report, Interior’s Office of Inspector General found that
                                        FWS spent $33,000 during fiscal year 1993 to maintain vacant housing and
                                        may have to spend an estimated $375,000 for long-term maintenance of




                                        3
                                          National Park Service: Condition of and Need for Employee Housing (GAO/RCED-93-192, Sept. 30,
                                        1993).



                                        Page 14                                           GAO/RCED-97-40 Land Management Agencies
Appendix II
Housing




FWS’ housing.4 The Inspector General reported that FWS should evaluate the
need for government-furnished housing at each location and dispose of
housing that is no longer needed and cannot be converted to other uses.
The report said the following: “Housing units that can be moved
(particularly trailers) could be sold or scrapped, and those units for which
repair is not feasible, that are unsightly, or that are safety hazards to the
staff or visiting public could be demolished.”




4
  Operation & Maintenance of Government Furnished Quarters, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of
Inspector General, U.S. Department of the Interior, Report No. 96-I-270 (Jan. 29, 1996).



Page 15                                            GAO/RCED-97-40 Land Management Agencies
Appendix III

Uniforms


                                    NPS, FWS, BLM,  and FS have similarities and differences in their policies and
                                    practices on the provision of uniforms. Each agency provides allowances
                                    for the initial acquisition and maintenance of uniforms issued; however,
                                    the amounts provided vary among the agencies. Similarities also exist in
                                    the agencies’ policies and practices for obtaining uniforms, tracking
                                    allowances for uniforms, and funding the cost of uniforms. Differences
                                    exist in the agencies’ policies and practices for requiring uniforms and for
                                    the type of uniforms available.

                                    Each agency believes that it is important that its employees be easily
                                    identified. The agencies want their employees to be differentiated from the
                                    public and other government employees. To accomplish this objective,
                                    each agency supplies uniforms (or components thereof, such as hats or
                                    shirts) to those employees authorized to wear them. Employees at each
                                    agency may be provided with an annual allowance of up to $400 to
                                    purchase uniforms.1 In fiscal year 1995, the latest year for which both
                                    allowance account and expenditure data were available from all four
                                    agencies, the agencies provided nearly 44,000 employees with uniform
                                    allowances. For the same fiscal year, the agencies spent over $8.5 million
                                    to provide their employees with uniforms. Table III.1 shows the agencies’
                                    number of employees with uniform allowance accounts and the amount of
                                    expenditures for uniforms for fiscal year 1995.

Table III.1: Uniform Accounts and
Expenditures, Fiscal Year 1995                                           Employees with uniform                         Expenditures
                                    Agency                                  allowance accounts                          for uniformsa
                                    NPS                                                        15,413                      $4,168,561
                                    FWS                                                         4,400                       1,188,000
                                    BLM                                                         5,120                         407,077
                                    FS                                                         18,886                       2,824,905
                                    Total                                                      43,819                      $8,588,543
                                    a
                                      The uniform expenditures shown in the table may include the purchases of uniforms (or
                                    components thereof) made by the agency for employees without individual allowance accounts.
                                    For example, if an employee needed a uniform or a component, but only for a short time, the
                                    agency could purchase it directly rather than establish an account for that person.

                                    Source: Agencies’ data.



                                    All four agencies provide two different types of allowances: initial and
                                    replacement. An initial allowance is given to new employees, transferred

                                    1
                                     The Federal Employees Uniform Allowance Act of 1954, as amended (5 U.S.C. 5901(a)), authorizes
                                    agencies to provide up to $400 per year per employee as a uniform allowance to defray the cost of
                                    purchasing uniforms. The act, as amended, also allows the Office of Personnel Management to adjust
                                    the maximum allowance for uniforms from time to time.



                                    Page 16                                            GAO/RCED-97-40 Land Management Agencies
                                       Appendix III
                                       Uniforms




                                       employees, or employees with new duties to help defray the cost of
                                       purchasing uniforms required by their unit. A replacement allowance
                                       enables employees to maintain their uniforms from year to year and to
                                       purchase additional items required by changes in their work location,
                                       duties, or uniform standards. Table III.2 shows the initial and replacement
                                       allowances and allowance ranges provided by each agency.

Table III.2: Initial and Replacement
Allowance Amounts, by Agency                                              Initial                       Annual replacement
                                       Agency                             allowance amount              allowance amount
                                       NPS                                $320 to $400, on the basis    $135 to $320, on the basis
                                                                          of type of uniform and        of type of uniform and
                                                                          whether the employee is       whether the employee is
                                                                          permanent or seasonal         permanent or seasonal
                                       FWS                                Up to $400, on the basis of   Up to $300, on the basis of
                                                                          components needed             type of uniform
                                       BLM                                Up to $400, on the basis of Up to $400, on the basis of
                                                                          components needed (policy program needs (policy
                                                                          recommends $400)            recommends $250 to $350,
                                                                                                      on the basis of type of
                                                                                                      uniform)
                                       FS                                 $161 to $400, on the basis $83 to $400, on the basis of
                                                                          of type of uniform and need type of uniform and need
                                       Source: Agencies’ policies; agency officials.



                                       The amount of allowance that employees are provided with can vary on
                                       the basis of several factors, such as what type of uniform is required, what
                                       the cost of needed components is, and whether the employee holds a
                                       permanent or a seasonal position. Accordingly, allowances can vary, both
                                       within and across agencies.

                                       The four agencies have similar policies and practices for obtaining
                                       uniforms, tracking uniform allowances, and funding the cost of uniforms.
                                       Each agency contracts with a company to provide uniforms and to
                                       maintain a database that tracks the balance of each employee’s allowance.
                                       The agencies pay the contractor for the uniforms delivered. None of the
                                       agencies have an appropriations line item for uniforms. Instead, the cost of
                                       uniforms is funded by the agency units and programs for which the
                                       uniformed employees work.

                                       The four agencies have different policies and practices for requiring
                                       employees to wear uniforms and for the type of uniforms available to
                                       employees. FWS is the only agency that requires all permanent field office




                                       Page 17                                          GAO/RCED-97-40 Land Management Agencies
Appendix III
Uniforms




employees, unless specifically excepted, to own and wear uniforms; it has
no similar requirement for regional or headquarters employees. At the
other agencies, certain employees are authorized to wear uniforms for a
variety of reasons, for example, when the employees have significant,
frequent, or recurring contact with the public and when it is important for
employees to establish their authority or identification as agency
representatives. The agencies also differ in the types of general uniforms
available. FS has two types: dress and field. BLM has three types: dress,
field, and work. FWS also has three types: dress, standard, and field. NPS has
seven types: formal, semi-formal, service (class A), field, work (class A),
service (class B), and work (class B). In addition to these types of general
uniforms, the agencies have various special-purpose uniforms (and
components) for specialized work such as fire fighting, law enforcement,
lifeguarding, nursing, and volunteering. An NPS official told us that the
agency has more categories of uniforms than the other agencies because
NPS “has a wider breadth of responsibilities than other land management
agencies, ranging from very high profile management of nationally
significant sites, like Independence Hall and the White House, to dirty
day-to-day field work.” He added that the formal, semi-formal, service,
field, and work (class A) uniforms do not vary much.




Page 18                                GAO/RCED-97-40 Land Management Agencies
Appendix IV

Vehicles


                  The policies used by NPS, FWS, BLM, and FS governing the use of their
                  vehicles for home-to-work transportation are similar; we found no
                  significant differences. These policies are consistent with governmentwide
                  regulations.

                  Both the Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior
                  have policies for employees’ use of the agencies’ vehicles for
                  home-to-work travel. These policies reflect the governmentwide
                  regulations, issued by the General Services Administration, that limit the
                  use of government vehicles for home-to-work travel to three groups of
                  employees: (1) high-level federal officials, (2) employees engaged in field
                  work, and (3) other employees when there is a compelling operational
                  consideration, a clear and present danger, or an emergency.

                  The two Departments’ policies are similar. For example, they

              •   specify that only the Secretary may authorize the use of an agency’s
                  vehicles for home-to-work travel;
              •   provide for the Secretary to authorize home-to-work vehicle use for
                  certain job series or positions (e.g., law enforcement personnel);
              •   specify that authorizations must be based on the increased efficiency and
                  economy of government operations instead of employee comfort and
                  convenience; and
              •   have similar definitions for the conditions under which employees may be
                  authorized for home-to-work travel, including field work (e.g., work at
                  multiple locations within 1 day) and emergencies.

                  Two of the four land management agencies—NPS and FWS—issued
                  additional policies and procedures to guide their employees’ use of
                  agencies’ vehicles for home-to-work travel. These policies are consistent
                  with Departmental policy, and for the most part, the additional guidance
                  regards agency-specific processes.

                  As mentioned above, the Departments’ Secretary can authorize
                  home-to-work travel for certain job series and positions. When such
                  authorizations have occurred, all four agencies have designated field
                  officials who are authorized to approve, on a case-by-case basis, the use of
                  agencies’ vehicles for home-to-work travel. For example, the Secretary of
                  the Interior authorized home-to-work travel for special agents and rangers
                  (law enforcement positions) at BLM. According to his June 1993
                  authorization, the rationale was the




                  Page 19                                GAO/RCED-97-40 Land Management Agencies
                                      Appendix IV
                                      Vehicles




                                      “. . . safe and efficient performance of protective services, criminal investigations,
                                      intelligence, and law enforcement activities; to include . . . initial response in conjunction
                                      with fire and life-rescue services, after-hours standby status or call out duty, investigative
                                      readiness, surveillance cover and emergency backup to primary 24 hour patrol operations.”


                                      With this authorization, BLM delegated case-by-case authorization to its
                                      state directors. Justifications for case-by-case authorizations are generally
                                      more specific. For example, the stated rationale for one ranger was that
                                      home-to-work travel would (1) provide for rapid response to BLM’s priority
                                      incidents, (2) maximize field work, (3) reduce overtime costs, and
                                      (4) provide for the safety of the employee. The authorization was limited
                                      to instances when conditions necessitated placing the employee on on-call
                                      status or when an assignment necessitated an early morning departure
                                      and/or a late after-hours return. In other instances, the ranger was to
                                      secure the agency’s vehicle in a locked and fenced federal compound.

                                      This same process may be followed for non-law enforcement
                                      home-to-work authorizations. According to other officials, the rationales
                                      for such authorizations for non-law enforcement employees were various
                                      and included such categories as field work and emergency maintenance.
                                      Table IV.1 shows the number of home-to-work vehicle authorizations for
                                      law enforcement and other employees.

Table IV.1: Home-to-Work Vehicle
Authorizations by Employee Type, as                                        Number of home-to-work authorizations
of November 1996                                                Law enforcement                       Other
                                      Agency                         employees                    employees                           Total
                                      NPS                                         208                         9                        217
                                      FWS                                         247                         0                        247
                                      BLM                                          29                         0                         29
                                                                                    a                          a                           a
                                      FS
                                      a
                                        Data were not readily available because, according to agency officials, decision-making and
                                      record keeping are decentralized.

                                      Source: Agencies’ data; agency officials.



                                      We have previously reviewed issues related to the use of government
                                      vehicles for home-to-work transportation. In a 1985 report, for example,
                                      we found that federal agencies were not strictly following the applicable
                                      statutes.1 At that time, home-to-work transportation was statutorily


                                      1
                                       Use of Government Motor Vehicles for the Transportation of Government Officials and the Relatives
                                      of Government Officials (GAO/GGD-85-76, Sept. 16, 1985).



                                      Page 20                                            GAO/RCED-97-40 Land Management Agencies
Appendix IV
Vehicles




precluded, under a 1946 law codified at 31 U.S.C. 1344, except for certain
specific officials and employees. But federal agencies’ broad
interpretations of these home-to-work exceptions resulted in confusion
and questionable extensions of these exceptions in the use of government
vehicles. In 1986, partly on the basis of our report, the Congress responded
by enacting Public Law 99-550, which amended the previous law and
established consistent and practical limitations on the use of government
vehicles for home-to-work transportation.

In a March 1991 report, we found that agencies were generally complying
with the restrictions on home-to-work transportation.2 We did identify
instances where high-level federal officials received home-to-work
transportation even though they were not authorized to do so. However,
these instances were generally isolated or infrequent occurrences and did
not constitute a regular pattern of abuse.




2
 Government Vehicles: Officials Now Rarely Receive Unauthorized Home-to-Work Transportation
(GAO/GGD-91-27, Mar. 15, 1991).



Page 21                                         GAO/RCED-97-40 Land Management Agencies
Appendix V

Grazing Programs


              The grazing programs administered by BLM and FS share certain elements
              but differ in several ways. Among the similarities is the process by which a
              citizen applies for and is granted a grazing permit. For both agencies, the
              process consists of a few key steps: (1) communication between the
              applicant and the agency, (2) the submission of a completed application
              form and documents verifying compliance with the basic eligibility
              requirements, (3) the determination of the applicant’s qualifications, and
              (4) the issuance or denial of the permit and the availability of an appeal
              process to those who are denied a permit.

              The two agencies’ programs are also similar in that they both charge the
              same grazing fees, which are calculated by a formula set in the Public
              Rangelands Improvement Act of 1978, and both agencies return a portion
              of the fees to the states. Furthermore, similarities exist in the types of
              livestock that the agencies allow to graze. According to officials of both
              agencies, cattle and sheep are the predominant livestock that permittees
              graze on federal lands. Other types of livestock—such as swine or
              buffalo—may be considered acceptable, however, as long as the permittee
              can control them.

              Among the programs’ key differences are those that exist in the programs’
              authorizing legislation, in the amount of land and livestock that a
              permittee must own, and in the transfer of grazing privileges from one
              person to another. First and foremost, the programs have different
              authorizations. BLM’s primary authority for managing the public lands,
              including rangelands, is found in the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934, as
              amended (43 U.S.C. 315). The law was enacted, in part, to stop injury to
              public grazing lands by preventing overgrazing and the deterioration of
              soil. Under the act, the Secretary of the Interior was authorized to issue
              permits to graze livestock on public lands and charge grazing fees.
              Generally, the Taylor Grazing Act does not apply to grazing on FS lands.
              Rather, FS’ grazing program is authorized by other legislation (e.g., the
              Organic Administration Act of 1897 and the Granger-Thye Act of 1950).

              Differences also exist in the agencies’ requirements pertaining to base
              property (i.e., property that permittees must have to support their grazing
              operations). FS requires that base property be owned by the permittee,
              whereas BLM requires that the property be owned or controlled (i.e.,
              leased) by the permittee. Additionally, FS imposes some acreage
              requirements setting forth the number of acres of private land needed to
              support the forage needs of the livestock being grazed. The acreage
              requirements vary among FS units, depending on such things as the climate



              Page 22                               GAO/RCED-97-40 Land Management Agencies
Appendix V
Grazing Programs




and the type and abundance of vegetation. BLM, on the other hand, has no
acreage requirements.

Finally, differences exist in the conditions under which a grazing permit
may pass from one landowner to the next. Under BLM’s program, grazing
permits are tied to the base property. Under FS’ program, in contrast,
permits are tied to the individual. Accordingly, grazing permits must be
waived or relinquished to FS upon the landowner’s death or the land’s sale.
FS may choose to issue a grazing permit to the subsequent landowner as
long as qualification requirements are met but is not legally obligated to do
so.

Over the years, we have reviewed various issues related to grazing on
federal lands. For example, in a June 1991 report, we compared the
existing grazing fee formula with alternatives that had been jointly
developed by BLM and FS.1 We noted that the formula kept fees low enough
to promote the economic stability of western livestock grazing operators
with federal permits but too low to cover the government’s cost of
managing the grazing program.

Also, in June 1992 and April 1993 reports, we profiled BLM’s and FS’ grazing
allotments and permits.2 Included in the profiles was information on the
numbers of allotments, the average acreage they encompassed, and the
total and average numbers of animal unit months they sustained.3




1
 Rangeland Management: Current Formula Keeps Grazing Fees Low (GAO/RCED-91-185BR, June 11,
1991).
2
 Rangeland Management: Profile of the Bureau of Land Management’s Grazing Allotments and Permits
(GAO/RCED-92-213FS, June 10, 1992) and Rangeland Management: Profile of the Forest Service’s
Grazing Allotments and Permittees (GAO/RCED-93-141FS, Apr. 28, 1993).
3
 An animal unit month is the amount of forage needed to sustain one cow, one horse, or five sheep for
1 month.



Page 23                                             GAO/RCED-97-40 Land Management Agencies
Appendix VI

Comments From the Department of the
Interior




See comment 1.

See comment 2.




See comment 2.




                 Page 24   GAO/RCED-97-40 Land Management Agencies
                 Appendix VI
                 Comments From the Department of the
                 Interior




                 The following are GAO’s comments on the Department of the Interior’s
                 letter dated January 23, 1997.


                 1. We did not incorporate this information in our report because we did
GAO’s Comments   not have comparable data for all four agencies.

                 2. We incorporated this information in our report.




                 Page 25                               GAO/RCED-97-40 Land Management Agencies
Appendix VII

Major Contributors to This Report


               Diane S. Lund
               Sue E. Naiberk
               Cheryl L. Pilatzke
               Cynthia S. Rasmussen
               Victor S. Rezendes
               Pamela K. Tumler




(141001)       Page 26                GAO/RCED-97-40 Land Management Agencies
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