Saturday, April 22, 2017

Trump Clamps Down On Spending At Interior, Energy Depts

by Michael Bastasch

The Trump administration is clamping down on grants and subsidies handed out by two federal agencies overseeing energy and land management programs.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke sent out a memo in early April initiating a thorough review of the Department of the Interior grants and cooperative agreements planned for this year. Interior hands out $5.5 billion for such things every year, according to an internal memo obtained by Axios.

“In order to help me to understand the immense impact grants and cooperative agreements have on the mission delivery of the Department, I am directing implementation of the following temporary procedures for processing grants and cooperative agreements,” Zinke wrote to top Interior officials.
Zinke wants to review all planned grants and cooperative agreements totaling $100,000 or more before they can be approved. Other federal agencies have undertaken similar reviews of spending.

During the Reagan administration, at the Assistant Secretary for Land & Water level, we initiated a policy that all grants of $10,000 or more must be approved by the Assistant Secretary. When the final reports came in I noticed something fishy in Montana. Two different grants, each for $9,900.  The BLM state director had split the grant between two closely related groups because he knew it would have never been approved.

Secretary Zinke better have somebody really bird dog this for him. When it comes to giving away money to their buddies or favorite outside interest groups, bureaucrats can be very persistent and creative.

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