Wednesday, March 14, 2012

U.S. Interior Secretary orders OSM/BLM consolidation to proceed

A senior leadership team, comprised of executives who all report to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, have produced a report that endorses Salazar's plan to consolidate the administrative functions of the Office of Surface Mining and the Bureau of Land Management. Not surprisingly, Salazar announced that OSM "will pursue administrative and program consolidations within the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that are expected to generate savings and efficiencies, while continuing to operate as an independent bureau within Interior." Not surprisingly, both the report and Salazar favor new fees on hardrock mining operators, the same type now collected from coal mining operations, "so that the BLM can pursue a more vigorous abandoned mine cleanup program." The Obama Administration and environmental groups have long supported levying such a fee on hardrock miners. The report calls for OSM services, such as national fleet and property management, equal employment opportunity, ethics, safety and occupational health, non-technical employee training and space allocation management, be integrated with the BLM. The team also suggested reimbursable agreements for department-level services should be considered for HR operations, acquisition and procurement, information technology, and space co-location. Nonetheless, the report insists current OSM communications, budget and emergency management programs remain independent and within the agency...more

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