THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Vice President
DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR
ACCOMPANYING REPORT OF THE NATIONAL PERFORMANCE REVIEW OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT Washington, DC September 1993
Executive Summary................................. 1
Recommendations and Actions
DOI01: Establish a Hard Rock Mine Reclamation Fund to Restore the Environment....................5
DOI02: Redefine Federal Oversight of Coal Mine Regulation.........................................9
DOI03: Establish a National Spatial Data Infrastructure....................................13
DOI04: Promote Entrepreneurial Management of the National Park Service.............................17
DOI05: Obtain a Fair Return for Federal Resources.21
DOI06: Rationalize Federal Land Ownership.........25
DOI07: Improve the Land Acquisition Policies of DOI............................................29
DOI08: Improve Minerals Management Service Royalty Collections.......................................33
DOI09:.Establish a System of Personnel Exchanges in DOI............................................37
DOI10: Consolidate Administrative and Programmatic Functions in DOI..................................41
DOI11: Streamline Management Support Systems in DOI...............................................45
DOI12: Create a New Mission for the Bureau of Reclamation.......................................51
DOI13: Improve the Federal Helium Program.........55
DOI14: Enhance Environmental Management by Remediating Hazardous Material Sites..............59
Agency Reinvention Activities.....................63
Summary of Fiscal Impact..........................67
Accompanying Reports of the National Performance Review............................................73
AML Abandoned Mine Land
AUM Animal Unit Months
AVADS Automated Vacancy Announcement Distribution System
BIA Bureau of Indian Affairs
BLM Bureau of Land Management
BOM Bureau of Mines
BOR Bureau of Reclamation
CASU Consolidated Administrative Support Units
DOI Department of the Interior
EPA Environmental Protection Agency
FFS Federal Financial System
FGDC Federal Geographic Data Committee
FTE Full-Time Equivalent
FWS Fish and Wildlife Service
GAO General Accounting Office
HAZMAT Hazardous Materials
IDEAS Interior Department's Electronic Acquisition System
IG Inspector General
LWCF Land and Water Conservation Fund
M&I Municipal and Industrial
MMS Minerals Management Service
NAS National Academy of Sciences
NPR National Performance Review
NPS National Park Service
NSDI National Spatial Data Initiative
OMB Office of Management and Budget
OSM Office of Surface Mining
RAMP Rural Abandoned Mine Program
R&B Rehabilitation and Betterment Act
RMP Royalty Management Program
SCS Soil Conservation Service
SMCRA Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act
SRPA Small Reclamation Projects Act
SRT System Reinvention Team
USFS United States Forest Service
USGS United States Geological Survey
Created in 1849, the Department of the Interior's (DOI) primary mission is to provide stewardship and management of federal lands and natural resources. As the nation's principal conservation agency, DOI has jurisdiction over approximately 450 million acres of public lands which include national parks and monuments, national wildlife refuges, Indian trust territories, and other protected areas.
To accomplish its current missions, DOI has approximately 77,000 full-time employees located at more than 700 U.S. sites and an operating budget of about $7.58 billion for fiscal year 1994. Prior to 1987, DOI collected more in revenue, primarily from offshore oil and gas leases, than it spent.
Several DOI issues involve stripping away barriers that prevent effective, efficient governance; eliminating federal micromanagement of state and local government; or managing across agency lines through boundary-spanning mechanisms. For example, to address health and safety threats and environmental damage caused by toxic metal and chemical leaching from abandoned mines, the federal government should establish a hard rock mine reclamation fund.
Federal oversight of coal mine regulation should be redefined to overcome organizational problems that inhibit an effective state-federal relationship. Using a system of national standards of excellence for regulatory and reclamation programs, establishing goals, performance measures, and an evaluation process, the federal government can improve oversight, develop an appropriate organizational structure, and better evaluate state programs.
By supporting a cross-agency coordina-ting effort, the federal government can, for example, develop a coherent vision for the national spatial data infrastructure (NSDI), which is essential to critical environmental analysis on endangered species and wetlands. Other cross-agency efforts include the need for the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture and the Director of OMB to modify the process for determining land acquisition priorities and procedures. DOI could then establish a comprehensive pilot program to coordinate the administration of selected federal lands based on principles of ecosystem management.
The National Park Service (NPS) needs to find new revenues through entrepreneurial management of national parks. By embracing an entrepreneurial management strategy - including reforming the nature, level, and collection of fees; updating concession contracts; and increasing voluntary partnerships - the NPS would enhance the public's enjoyment of the parks and protect them for future generations. Further, reforms are needed to guarantee a fair return for federal resources such as livestock grazing, hard rock mining, and communications sites.
Better management of DOI's royalty collection program would increase revenues and improve efficiency in DOI's $4.7 million Royalty Management Program (RMP). The RMP should proceed with a vigorous program of compliance verification, develop new computer programs to analyze transactions, and identify and adopt new methods to simplify royalty reporting.
A change in management philosophy, empowerment of workers, and a cultural transformation is needed to address bureaucratic barriers at DOI. Many of the emerging issues in the department, such as ecosystem management, will require integrated, cross-cutting management approaches. A system of personnel exchanges and in-house contracts across bureau boundaries will help develop cooperative approaches to departmental problems, encourage employee movement, and provide incentives for innovation. In addition, to manage its bureaus effectively, DOI needs to reduce duplicative services.
The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) should redefine its mission toward new environmental priorities. As its traditional construction mission ends, BOR must clarify its proper federal role in water management and devolve secondary support functions to state and local authorities. BOR must assist in defining the federal policy for water management in the West and maintain a leadership role in managing completed projects. By the beginning of fiscal year 1995, BOR should develop a new mission which assumes a leadership role in western water policy and focuses on water management functions.
The federal government also needs to reexamine its role in such programs as the federal helium program. To obtain maximum benefit from helium operations, the federal government should cancel the helium debt, reduce costs and increase efficiencies in helium operations, and increase sales of crude helium as market conditions permit.
Moreover, the DOI should integrate skills across bureau boundaries in the remediation of its hazardous materials (HAZMAT) sites. The high cost of HAZMAT remediation requires DOI to make maximum use of existing resources. Managerial and scientific expertise should be integrated in cooperative, crossbureau efforts to assess and remediate HAZMAT sites designated as pilot projects. Furthermore, a legal strike force should be established by the end of 1994 to address legal barriers to cleanup.
The most important benefits of implementing the reinvention recommendations cannot be quantified at this time. Improved customer service, greater efficiency, and a better work environment will be the ultimate rewards. Of the benefits that can be quantified, implementing these recommendations would collectively result in $1,605.7 million in new revenues, $277.5 million in new budget authority, and a reduction of 1,471 full-time equivalents over six years.
Establish a Hard Rock Mine Reclamation Fund to Restore the Environment
Health and safety threats and environmental damage caused by toxic metal and chemical leaching from abandoned hard rock mines are serious national problems. Acid drainage from these mines not only poses a direct environmental hazard at the source but also creates potential liability for the federal government due to downstream contamination.
Currently, reliable data on the total number of mines producing acid drainage and the number of miles of streams affected by acid and metal drainage are not available. However, various estimates have placed the number of these mines in the range of 20,000-50,000. An estimated $11 billion would be needed to reclaim all existing abandoned non-coal mines.
The environmental problems of hard rock mining occur when acid drainage creates large toxic, metal-bearing sediment loads in stream channels. The channels may be brightly colored red, purple, and orange by precipitates of iron and other metal compounds. Stream waters become acidified by the metal constituents. Fish and other organisms in the system are lost in the waters most affected as a result of metal contamination. Streamside vegetation is often changed, and the nearby ground water may become contaminated with metal ions.
A more vigorous cleanup effort can be mounted by creation of a new abandoned mine land (AML) reclamation fund similar to the existing fund for abandoned coal mines. The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA) created the AML Fund to be used for restoration of abandoned coal mines. Abandoned mine reclamation in hard rock mining is permitted using existing AML grants only after a state completes all high-priority coal mine reclamation or if the non-coal project is for the protection of human health and safety.
The existing fund, which is based on a tax on coal production, is not intended to address the major cleanup requirements arising from abandoned non-coal mines nor are sufficient funds available to meet noncoal needs.
Structural problems also make the existing program less effective than it might be. These problems include:
--a distribution formula which is not directly related to priority reclamation needs;
--a structure which permits insufficient appropriations from the fund each year;
--lack of a mine inventory which is widely accepted as accurate; and
--use of the fund for nonreclamation purposes.
Legislation currently under consideration in Congress contains possible alternatives for structuring a new program for hard rock mine reclamation. Current interest in legislation for mining law reform provides an opportunity to structure this new fund so as to avoid problems that exist with the current AML fund.
Creating a new AML fund at this time would provide the added opportunity to structure an organization to effectively and efficiently address the issue of abandoned hard rock mine reclamation. While the existing AML program can provide the framework of a reclamation program for hard rock mine reclamation, creating a new, separate program will provide an opportunity to address and avoid perceived financial, managerial, and political problems with the existing AML program. (These problems are discussed in detail in a separate issue paper on redefining federal oversight in coal mine regulation.)
Although the pending mining reform legislation (HR. 322 and S. 775 introduced by Congressman Nick Rahall of West Virginia and Senator Larry Craig of Idaho, respectively) provides an opportunity to create a responsible reclamation program, the uncertain status of that legislation complicates NPR's task of making specific recommendations to resolve this issue.
The administration has not yet made final decisions about many of the elements of a reclamation program. Therefore, the recommendations outlined here represent current thinking or sketch the range of options currently under consideration, but are subject to change.
In addition to supporting legislative remedies, the Department of the Interior (DOI) should play an active role in coordinating research on acid mine drainage and cleanup of toxic waste. Cross-agency, intergovernmental and private sector cooperation in research activities could improve cleanup results and lower the costs of mine reclamation.
The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Mines (BOM) are engaged in a cooperative research project focusing on acid drainage prediction, development of effective technologies to control drainage at both abandoned and operating sites, and development of cost-effective technology to correct acid drainage from abandoned sites.
BOM and the National Park Service (NPS) also have a memorandum of understanding to coordinate activities related to mine reclamation. While the USFS-BOM and NPS-BOM cooperative agreements are a start, there is neither a broader coordinated effort involving research organizations, land management agencies, state and local governments, and the private sector, nor funding specifically targeted for this purpose.
The fund should be structured as a permanent appropriation with distribution based on priority needs as determined by a nationwide priority system and inventory of abandoned mine sites on federal, state, and private lands.
DOI should recommend that proposed legislation devote a significant portion of the royalty for mines on federal lands to reclamation and/or levy a separate reclamation fee on all hard rock mines.
2. DOI should establish a nationwide priority system for cleanup of abandoned hard rock mines based on the risks involved and identified through an inventory of mine sites.
For example, the system would rank mine sites by risks as follows:
--imminent and substantial harm to the public health or safety;
--significant risk of harm to public health, safety, or the environment; and
--degree of difficulty of restoration of degraded lands and waters.
The states should participate in the inventory and prioritization.
3. In the course of formulating the Administration's position on hard rock mine reclamation, DOI should carefully review the strengths and weaknesses of the existing coal AML program.
As with the existing coal program, states should implement and manage regulatory and AML programs with federal approval and oversight. A decision on which DOI office will manage the new program should be based on staffing capabilities and related program experience in existing DOI offices.
4. Using the USFS/BOM cooperative research project as a model, DOI should take the lead in developing an interagency program of research and development and implementation of mine cleanup on federal lands, beginning with a thorough inventory of mining sites.
The program should be established by the beginning of fiscal year 1995. This program should take maximum advantage of opportunities for private sector participation and cooperative funding.
Western states are supportive of the idea of an AML reclamation program and will favor options that maximize their discretion and control over funding and priorities. The mining industry is not supportive of fees or royalties in general and is opposed to the idea that the industry should be taxed to correct the errors of the past.
Program implementation may eventually require more federal personnel and will also have an impact on the states in implementation of their regulatory and reclamation programs. In theory, royalties and fees will provide adequate funding to cover the new programs. It is not possible at this time to determine the fiscal impact of the proposal because many of the essential elements, such as the amount of royalties and fees, are still unknown.
Redefine Federal Oversight of Coal Mine Regulation
Both mine regulation and reclamation of abandoned mine lands are structured by the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA) to permit states to assume primary responsibility for their programs while reserving an oversight role for the federal government. However, the state-federal relationship is strained, and the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) within the Department of the Interior (DOI), which performs the oversight function, suffers from management and organizational problems.
Changes in the mining law and regulation, reorganizing OSM and restructuring the fedral oversight role could result in improved performance, and greater fiscal savings in administering abandoned mine reclamation funds.
The federal oversight role should take maximum advantage of states' expertise in mine regulation developed since SMCRA was passed. Instead, the intergovernmental relationship is a source of friction between state and federal regulators. A recent study concluded that, while a certain level of conflict is inherent in any oversight relationship, "the frustration gap between federal and state inspectors in this policy area is far wider than one might expect."[Endnote 1]
Federal and state inspectors traditionally have favored different enforcement styles. Generally, state inspectors tend to use an accommodating style with coal companies, while federal inspectors commonly adhere to a strict compliance style. [Endnote 2] Despite differing styles, both state and federal regulators consider themselves environmentalists but apparently disagree on how to reach environmental goals.
While states are uncomfortable with aggressive federal oversight, environmental groups believe that active federal oversight is essential and that the federal regulatory system needs to "...accomplish the goals of SMCRA while reducing intergovernmental conflicts and misallocation of resources.''[Endnote 3]
With regard to state responsibility, SMCRA authorizes states to adopt their own programs regulating the environmental effects of coal mining. States submit programs to the Secretary of the Interior for approval and, if approved, states are granted primacy (the term primacy refers to primary, as opposed to exclusive, responsibility for a program). The federal government retains oversight responsibility carried out by OSM.
If a state's program either fails or is not approved, a federal regulatory program run by OSM must be implemented in that state. It is in a state's interest to assume primacy for coal mining regulation because only those states with primacy are eligible to receive AML grants. State primacy is in the federal government's interest because state programs are less expensive to operate than federal programs. Tennessee is the only major coal mining state that does not have primacy.
A basic problem is to determine the proper scope and focus of oversight efforts. Federal oversight under SMCRA is frequently criticized for focusing on strict compliance with the rules rather than on success in meeting the environmental goals of the law. For example, in the area of mine reclamation, the federal government keeps track of the number of sites reclaimed regardless of the environmental importance of these sites. The federal government has not established measurable goals or evaluation criteria for environmental results.
According to the study cited above, the federal-state relationship might be improved if federal staff "communicated their common desire to achieve qualitative on-the-ground environmental results, rather than merely quantitatively monitoring state enforcement efforts.''[Endnote 4] What is needed is an evaluation system that identifies effective performance in meeting environmental goals.
Once such a system is established, DOI will have objective criteria with which to propose to Congress a new distribution formula for AML funds. The current formula is largely based on the amount of coal currently mined in each state rather than on the number of abandoned mine sites requiring reclamation. This results in allocating a large proportion of available funds to certain western states with relatively small reclamation needs. A formula based on reclamation needs and program goals would make better use of available funds.
A second concern is how to structure OSM to perform a more effective oversight role. Since SMCRA's inception, the number of coal mines has dropped significantly (about 6,200 in 1976 to about 4,100 in 1988), and most states have assumed primacy. However, the number of federal employees involved in the surface mine program has not significantly declined.
A recent congressional staff report questioned both field-central office staffing ratios and geographical location of field offices. While it is clear that a reorganization of OSM, with a likely reduction of personnel, is in order, organizational changes can most effectively be made in concert with the revision of the office's oversight role and establishment of national goals and standards for mining regulation and reclamation.
Although AML grants provide most funding for mine reclamation, a related grant program, the AML emergency program, addresses urgent problems such as mudslides and mine fires that occur outside planned reclamation schedules. Emergencies are most common in Appalachia, with most high-cost projects occurring in Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Although emergencies have traditionally been a federal responsibility, many states are assuming responsibility for managing their own programs. Nine states, including Kentucky and Pennsylvania, have not yet done so.
Congress, concerned that certain states were taking advantage of the separate emergency funding pool to supplement their reclamation funds, added appropriations bill language beginning in fiscal year 1992 that capped an individual state's share at 25 percent of the appropriation. This solution limited spending in the highest spending states but generated carryover of appropriated funds in all others. A better solution is to require states to take over their emergency programs and do away with separate funding of the emergency program.
The Rural Abandoned Mine Program (RAMP) is a related mine reclamation program funded by AML funds but administered by the Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Service (SCS). Administration of the RAMP program duplicates existing state capabilities to administer mine reclamation programs. Merging all AML funding into a consolidated grant, and building on the simplified grant program already in effect, would permit states to take greater responsibility and increase flexibility in prioritizing their needs, while also substantially reducing federal administrative costs.
Oversight should be changed from a quantitative to a qualitative approach, directed toward preventing environmental harm and assessing progress in meeting the objectives of the law. This project should be completed and new procedures should be implemented by October 1994, the beginning of federal fiscal year 1995.
2. Once this project is completed, DOI should propose legislation to revise the distribution formula for AML grants based on program goals and state performance.
3. By January 1995, OSM should review its organizational structure based on the review of its oversight role and submit a plan to close or downsize offices with declining workloads, eliminate unnecessary management levels, and adjust its field and Washington staffing ratio.
4. The Secretary of the Interior should persuade the State of Tennessee to submit its proposed regulatory programs to DOI, as a first step toward assuming primacy.
This will strengthen its commitment toward primacy and provide greater efficiencies in program operations.
5. Future appropriation bills should remove language requiring "per state limits"on AML emergency funds. States should be required to assume responsibility for administering their AML emergency programs.
6. The SMCRA should be amended so that the Rural Abandoned Mine Program is administered by the states.
7. Grant funding for reclamation should be in the form of consolidated grants, building on the existing simplified grant program, with states given the responsibility for establishing reclamation priorities.
Distribution of AML grants to meet priority reclamation needs is a contentious political issue reflecting a conflict between eastern and western states. The existing distribution formula, largely based on the amount of coal currently mined in any state rather than on priority reclamation needs, favors western states. Establishment of a system of goals and performance measures could provide an objective basis for proposing a restructuring of the distribution formula to better meet environmental goals.
OSM, Facts about Coal in Tennessee (Tennessee's private coal association), and the Governor of Tennessee support primacy for Tennessee. If primacy were approved, Tennessee could begin receiving AML grants.
Changes in the administration of RAMP will be controversial because Congress favors keeping RAMP in the current SCS district structure rather than having it run by the states.
Assumption of primacy by Tennessee will save an estimated $3 million per year beginning in fiscal year 1996.
RAMP administrative costs are capped at 15 percent of the program. The program cost is just under $13.4 million, so $2 million per year would be saved by moving program funds to AML grants for administration by the states.
Savings in the range of $2-3 million per year will occur if the remaining states take over their emergency programs and OSM closes or downsizes offices with declining workloads.
These estimates are based on cost savings gained through consolidating grant programs and transferring more responsibility to the state level. Additional savings, both in dollars and in full-time equivalents (FTE), will be generated from the review of the federal oversight role, which should eliminate duplication of functions, and from the reorganization of OSM.
Budget Authority (BA) and Outlays
(Dollars in Millions)
1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 Total
BA.........0.0 0.0 -7.0 -7.0 -7.0 -7.0 -28.0
Outlays....0.0 0.0 -7.0 -7.0 -7.0 -7.0 28.0
FTEs.........0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Establish a National Spatial Data Infrastructure
The federal government has a unique opportunity to coordinate and manage partnerships with private industry and state and local governments to develop what promises to be one of the most important information technologies of the 21st century, the national spatial data infrastructure (NSDI). NSDI refers to digital, spatial (geographic) data that will eventually replace the analog maps of the past.
These digital maps of the future will be essential to analyze and depict environmental information (geographic distribution of endangered species, monitoring of wetlands) and, more generally, hydrology, soils, agriculture, climate, geology, transportation, and urban development throughout the United States. NSDI will play an integral role in the Administration's information infrastructure investment and information highway.
In an April 1993 report, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) stated: "...improvements in NSDI are critical to the maintenance of a competitive position for the United States in an increasingly international economic arena."[Endnote 1] An estimated $8-10 billion per year are spent on spatial, digital data worldwide. Federal agencies currently spend an estimated $4 billion per year on geographic data acquisition. These expenditures will increase in the future, but currently, the framework to obtain, catalog, and transmit this information is in an ad hoc, largely incoherent state.
Data collection is duplicated at the federal, state, local, and private levels for different purposes (e.g., transportation planning and water resource management). Moreover, different entities (e.g., federal and local agencies) are often unaware that much needed data have already been acquired by another party. Even when specific spatial data are known to exist, non-standardized collection procedures and lack of easy access often restrict their use.
NSDI would enable analysts and decisionmakers to integrate diverse geographic information. For example, a county land manager, who is considering possible uses of a given tract of land, could overlay the following digital maps:
--urban development, and
Using a desktop computer, the land planner could access information needed to determine how the land can be used and protected. Other spatial data users, such as a transportation planner or a power company, could use some of these digital maps in combination with another set of digital maps. In terms of applications, spatial data should know no boundaries. A coordinated effort at all levels of governments would yield nonduplicative, multipurpose spatial data.
With limited resources in the 1990s, the federal government must seek innovative ways to pursue NSDI. Effective government policy should promote partnerships involving cost-sharing and data-sharing. The federal government needs to avoid establishing a bureaucratic organization to lead NSDI. Instead, the independent users--federal agencies, states, counties, cities, private companies--should be included in the process of collecting and disseminating spatial data.
The principal federal role is to lead the development of NSDI and to coordinate its implementation. Currently, the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC), led by the Department of the Interior (DOI), is authorized by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-16 to coordinate federal agency involvement in NSDI.[Endnote 2] FGDC needs to be strengthened as the principal federal mechanism to coordinate mapping, surveying, and related spatial data activities. Key issues that need to be addressed by FGDC include:
--establishing standards for data collection and cataloging;
--developing federal policy for creating cost-sharing partnerships;
--identifying and creating a plan to produce core data sets that will form the basic framework of NSDI;
--identifying thematic data sets that will have specific applications; and
--creating a clearinghouse for finding, accessing, and sharing spatial data.
In addition to leading the national effort, the federal government will be a major provider of spatial data through its various agencies (especially Interior, Commerce, Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautic and Space Administration, Transportation, Defense, and Agriculture). DOI (in particular, the U.S. Geological Survey) has always been a leader in mapping natural resources and will be a major player in the evolution of NSDI.[Endnote 3]
FGDC should create and implement common procedures and standards for data collection (content, quality, and other characteristics). Adherence to these standards should be a condition of budget approval and apply to all expenditures of federal resources for geospatial data production, including those allocated to state and local governments or the private sector. FGDC should participate in an OMB-led budget crosscut (i.e., a governmentwide budget for geospatial activities) for fiscal year 1995 to assure a coordinated and coherent federal effort.
2. The federal government should establish, through FGDC, a program by June 1994, to form partnerships with state and local governments and the private sector with the goal of having a 50 percent or higher non-federal cost share for new or enhanced activities.
Federal-state partnerships can be modeled after the 50/50 joint funding agreements that the U.S. Geological Survey has with state governments to produce topographic maps and data. Federal-private partnerships should be based on Cooperative Research and Development Agreements.
3. The FGDC should submit a schedule and funding plan to OMB by September 1994, for completing the collection and production of national core geospatial data by January 2000.
Core data refer to information that nearly all users of spatial data technologies require to accurately locate features on the earth's surface. Such information forms an underlying framework from which other data sets may be derived or to which other data sets can be referenced. Core data include geodetic, topographic, hydrographic, land survey, and transportation data.
4. The FGDC should identify thematic data sets of critical national importance and establish priorities, standards, and a funding plan by September 1994, based on partnerships for collection of these data.
Thematic data, although not required for developing other data sets, are critical to solve specific problems of national significance (e.g., wetlands, endangered species, and seismic).
5. By June 1994, the FGDC should create a geospatial data clearinghouse, which will use existing computer networks, to provide public access to spatial data.
FGDC should identify an incentive system to encourage sharing of data and discourage redundancy in data collection. One possible incentive could be a partial federal rebate for the costs of data collection.
An Executive Order may be required to implement the above recommendations.
FGDC is an organization consisting of representatives from the federal geospatial data community. Until now, the organization has been mostly limited to setting standards, coordinating efforts, and consensus-building for general policy. The recommendations will significantly strengthen FGDC by specifying enforcement authority and setting clear policy goals.
From the perspective of reinventing government, the question is what role should the federal government have in NSDI? In the past, a technology of such vital, national, economic interest would have involved massive federal investment. However, today, the magnitude of money needed for such an investment is unavailable. An alternative is for the federal government to forge cost-sharing partnerships horizontally among federal agencies, vertically between state and local governments, and, most importantly, with the private sector to leverage the federal dollars already being spent on spatial data. Additional federal investments could be tiered by considering the value of the data and the degree of nonfederal cost-sharing.
The fiscal impact of NSDI is difficult to determine for several reasons. First, the value of digital data in existing applications is just beginning to be measured. Second, as spatial data become more common, new applications with immeasurable value will be realized. Third, the value of foresight (e.g., coordinating efforts to avoid waste and duplication) is difficult to measure. However, some attempts have been made to estimate benefits resulting from digital data being used in existing applications. For example, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that $309 million in benefits will accrue between 1994- 2000 by accelerating the digitization of one map series (i.e., 7.5-minute quadrangles). The estimated benefits represent only federal government cost savings; the benefits associated with new applications and reduction in duplication are not included in the benefit estimates.
As noted previously, significant resources are
already being spent on digital, spatial data in the
United States. These expenditures will rapidly
increase regardless of the above proposal. Whatever
the level of resources allotted to spatial data
activities in the future, implementation of the
recommendations would greatly increase the return on
investment. Although some additional expense could be
incurred by converting existing data to a new
standard, this will be more than compensated by
advantages such as cost partnerships and datasharing.
Given the current growth rate of
expenditures, future savings for the federal government from cost partnerships alone could be billions of dollars over the next decade. The sharing of data among federal agencies and other organizations will yield undetermined large savings for the federal government and its partners in NSDI. The development of plans in the recommendations will be budget-neutral.
Although NSDI plans can be developed at nominal cost, implementation of the plans would require additional resources. These costs cannot be accurately determined until actual plans are developed. However, some approximate estimates of expenditures can be made on the basis of different scenarios. A minimal approach to NSDI, involving only data standards and a clearinghouse, would cost about $4 million annually in new federal support. An additional $2 million would be required from federal agencies to provide support to FGDC activities.
Acquisition of a basic national data set for identified high priority areas, with significant nonfederal cost-sharing, would cost about $20-$30 million annually. A more ambitious approach, which would accelerate collection of thematic data (e.g., national wetlands and biodiversity mapping) and include core data for moderate priority areas, would require $50-$75 million annually in new federal investment. Although these figures seem large, they are small compared to what would be spent if the federal government proceeds with an uncoordi-nated effort.
Budget Authority (BA) and Outlays
(Dollars in Millions)
.........1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 Total
BA*.......6.0 6.0 6.0 6.0 6.0 6.0 36.0
Outlays...6.0 6.0 6.0 6.0 6.0 6.0 36.0
FTEs........5 5 5 5 5 5 5
Promote Entrepreneurial Management of the National Park Service
The National Park Service (NPS) in the Department of the Interior (DOI) was established in 1916 to "promote and regulate the use of the national parks...by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.''[Endnote 1] In the face of urgent internal needs and growing demands on its resources, NPS will have difficulty accomplishing this mission without increased revenues. Since present deficit reduction efforts make expanded federal appropriations unlikely, NPS must enhance revenues on its own by embracing an entrepreneurial management strategy. By reforming the nature, level, and collection of fees, updating concession contracts, and increasing voluntary partnerships, NPS would enhance enjoyment of the parks in the present and future.
The vital needs of NPS must be met or the parks will be impaired for future generations. NPS has an estimated backlog of projects totalling $5.5 billion. By its current account, NPS calculates backlogged projects totalling: $500 million each in natural resource, cultural resource, and operational maintenance projects; $1.8 billion in transportation and housing construction; $1.8 billion in building and utility construction; and $400 million in park operations.2 Current appropriations cannot meet these challenges confronting NPS. These fiscal shortfalls reflect pressing, fundamental needs which must be addressed to protect the national parks from continued deterioration.
Beyond these operational needs of the present lie the emerging demands of the future, demands which call on NPS to respond with a new vision. The long-term viability of the parks will depend not just on repaving roads, but on promoting alternative transportation; not just on improving facilities, but on redesigning them for the next century; not just on stretching customer service, but on revitalizing it with information-age technology. These specific reforms, and many others, must serve a holistic effort to integrate the natural and cultural resources of the parks within a single management strategy. The strategy and the vision behind it will require fiscal support not presently available.
Reform in the nature, level, and collection of fees in the national parks holds strong potential for addressing the unmet needs of NPS. Currently, the NPS charges fees for admission/entrance to the parks on a per-person and per-vehicle basis. Concessionaires pay the NPS a portion of their revenues in the form of franchise fees. Other fees include recreational user fees and special use permit fees. Despite the immense challenges facing NPS and the costs they entail, public access to the national parks is virtually free of charge. Of 367 NPS sites, 182 require no entrance fees at all, and only 15 impose the maximum allowable admission rate of $5 per vehicle and $3 per person. (Three parks are permitted to assess $10/vehicle and $5/person for admission: Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Grand Canyon.)
The problem is not just that current fee levels are low, but that the array of assessed fees does not account for the many special demands that users impose on the parks.[Endnote 3] These demands not only include high-risk activities involving search-and rescue, commercial filming, and bike and foot races, but also everyday pursuits such as fishing, hiking, and biking. Each activity places strains on the infrastructure, staff, and resources of the sites that go beyond those associated with simple entry and observation, yet these additional costs are passed on to special users only in part, or not at all. Present fees cover only 5 percent of annual park operating costs.
Higher and more specialized fees must be identified and collected where appropriate. Unfortunately, present policy gives NPS unit managers little incentive to do so, since most of their revenues pass directly to the Treasury and they see little direct benefit. To reinvigorate collections, incentives must be introduced to make individual parks more entrepreneurial in their operations. Allowing the parks to keep a portion of fees and allocate the funds without undue constraint would represent an empowering first step. To protect less popular parks, a percentage of individual revenues should be contributed to a central trust with the authority to assist the entire park system as needed.
NPS must complement its efforts to increase revenues with a program to improve collection efficiency. Currently, fees are collected and permits are issued by rangers at various visitor contact points. This procedure diverts scarce NPS employees from more specialized tasks and can significantly slow admissions. In smaller areas, remote locations, urban areas, and off-peak time periods, manual collection becomes highly inefficient and is sometimes foregone altogether.
Therefore, 119 National Parks do not collect entrance fees because doing so would be economically infeasible. If visitation to the parks grows by three million annually, as expected, using rangers as cashiers will be increasingly difficult.
To reduce its dependence on manual processing, NPS should explore the use of barrier-free admissions based on automated entry equipment and off-site ticket sales. The new system could offer an array of ticket options available "any time, anywhere.'' Several specific pilots already exist, such as the vending machines at Carlsbad Caverns, the Duck Stamp program of the Fish and Wildlife Service, and several credit-card payment schemes. These experimental programs should be compared to present practices relating to operation and maintenance costs, customer satisfaction, safety issues, and frequency of fraud. If successful, they could provide a useful complement to traditional collection approaches.
Concession contracts, like fees, can provide much needed revenues for an entrepreneurial NPS. Receipts from concession franchise fees must be actively pursued by NPS. In the past, NPS has viewed these contracts not as fiscal assets but as customer service obligations. Due to isolation, short tourist seasons, and large capital requirements, some concessions have been essentially subsidized. Reaching agreement with vendors has been a difficult process. The cumulative result: average net return to the government has remained under three percent of gross concession revenue. By the end of fiscal 1994, 142 concession agreements will have expired. NPS should seize this opportunity to promote competition, expedite renegotiations, and boost the government's return. To prevent revenues from being lost during the renegotiation period, NPS should have the means to expedite its renewal program.
Private donations, even more than park fees and concession contracts, represent a source of untapped revenue for NPS. NPS should make the most of these voluntary contributions.
Although over 200 nonprofit groups and countless corporations give money to the parks, NPS remains rigidly constrained in its dealings with them. At present, NPS has no authority to solicit funds and may enter into cooperative agreements with nonfederal partners only when authorized by law. It also lacks the fiscal means needed to fully pursue an incentive program for donors, such as the successful Challenge Cost Share Program of 1993 which asked donors to match $2 million of federal money with $2 million of their own. An entrepreneurial NPS needs to have enhanced legal and financial flexibility to solicit donations.
The NPS needs to take full advantage of opportunities to increase revenues. Visitors, businesses, and contributors are able and, in most cases, willing to do more.
One-half of all additional fee revenues should be allocated to NPS through the budget and appropriation process, until expended, for backlog projects and new initiatives. Remaining revenues should be returned to the Treasury. To ensure accountability, the legislation should hold NPS to strict performance standards based on demonstrated results in program output and project execution.
2. The NPS should explore barrier-free admissions based on automated entry equipment and off-site vending of tickets and permits.
NPS should designate a small set of parks as two-year "Advanced Fee Collection Demonstrations'' beginning in 1994.
3. The NPS should accelerate its concession reform and renewal program.
NPS should take aggressive interim measures to complete the renegotiation of its concession contracts, calling for special appropriations and outside expert support as necessary. Concession contracts which expire by 1994 should be renegotiated by 1995. This would allow NPS to begin higher collections and receipts in fiscal year 1995. Onehalf of new revenues from concessions contracts should return to the parks of their origin, the remaining half should be used at the Secretary's discretion for backlog projects and park reform.
4. Legislation should be enacted to enhance the legal and financial flexibility of NPS fund-raising.
This legislation should authorize up to $25 million for NPS Challenge Cost Share Program over the next five years. It should also authorize the Secretary to solicit and accept gifts of money and property, under guidelines developed by the Secretary, for all park purposes and allow NPS to enter partnerships with non-federal organizations when it is to the government's benefit or will increase government efficiency. To support these enhanced activities, NPS should set up a special partnership and fund-raising unit to coordinate and maximize its charitable receipts.
5. NPS should continue its reform efforts to meet emerging, long-term needs of the national parks with a holistic, new vision.
One immediate area for exploration should be customer service, which could be improved substantially but inexpensively through entrepreneurial measures. A 900 phone number, for example, could provide information on fees, permits, reservations, and transportation while generating revenue.
The future viability of these nationally significant resources hinges on embracing entrepreneurial measures now. The recommendations in this issue are not a panacea, but they do represent a step in the right direction to infuse NPS with fiscal resources sorely needed to fulfill its mission.
These recommendations would result in a two-fold increase in park entrance fees. Today, the average walk-in entrance fee is $2.50 and $4.25 by car (includes all occupants). The exception is in three heavily used parks: Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Grand Canyon, which charge $5.00 by foot and $10.00 by car. For the three exception parks, fees would increase to $8.00 per walk-in. Vehicle fees would be eliminated.
In addition, children 16 and younger would continue to get free entrance into the parks. Seniors, however, would no longer be entitled to have free access to all parks for life but would be charged 50 percent of the park fee. Thus a family visiting Yellowstone Park could spend a week at the park for approximately $16.00.
These recommendations should generate new revenues totalling $993 million over six years. The portion of the new revenues contributed by entrance fees, concessions, and private donations would be about $590 million, $122 million, and $281 million respectively. Half of entrance fee revenues will be used for addressing backlogs and new park reforms. The other half will be returned to the Treasury.
Budget Authority (BA), Outlays, and Revenue (Dollars in Millions)
1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 Total
0.0 30.0 53.0 77.0 86.0 86.0 332.0
0.0 12.0 30.0 56.0 73.0 83.0 254.0
70.0 123.0 182.0 206.0 206.0 206.0 993.0
Change in FTEs
0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Obtain a Fair Return for Federal Resources
The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 established a policy that "the United States receive fair market value for use of the public lands and their resources unless otherwise provided for by statute.''[Endnote 1] Programs regulating the uses of federal lands, however, often lose money and fail to provide incentives for good land stewardship. Federal grazing and hard rock mining programs have historically operated at a loss to the taxpayers. Moreover, fees from communication sites on federal lands (radio and television towers, mobile radio, microwave antennas, etc.) have not reflected the true value of these unique resources.
The federal government should institute policies which guarantee fair return for the commercial sale or use of mineral, renewable and other natural resources. Revenues gained from these fees should cover program costs, if possible, and provide additional funds to better manage the land base. Whenever possible, the fee structure should include incentives to encourage good land stewardship practices. Federal policy should be fair to the taxpayers as well as to livestock permitees, mining operators, and owners of communications sites.
The current formula for setting grazing fees on federal lands was established in 1986 by Executive Order 12548. Grazing fees are measured in Animal Unit Months (AUMs). The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the Department of the Interior (DOI), authorizes 10 to 11 million AUMs per year, and the Department of Agriculture's Forest Service (USFS) authorizes approximately 7.5 million AUMs annually. The grazing fee is currently set at $1.86 per AUM, which results in annual receipts of about $33.5 million.
The Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture issued a draft grazing reform proposal on August 9, 1993. The proposed policy would replace the existing grazing fee formula and establish a new fee of $4.28 per AUM. The new fee would be phased in over three years to lessen the impact on ranchers. After the phase-in period, annual adjustments to the fee could not exceed 25 percent of the previous year's fee. The new proposal also includes the following provisions:
--replacing Grazing Advisory Boards, composed of grazing permittees and lessees, with Resource Advisory Councils, which would have a more diverse membership and move toward more comprehensive range management strategies;
--developing National Rangeland Standards and Guidelines;
--establishing federal ownership of permanent range improvement structures on public lands; and
--establishing public ownership of water rights on BLM lands.
Hard rock mining is another area in which the federal government does not receive fair return. There are currently two bills in Congress that would reform the Mining Law of 1872. These bills (H.R. 322 and S. 775) differ in their approaches to reform items such as rental fees, royalties, bonding, and patenting. The Administration is seeking compromise legislation that would result in new federal revenues from rents and royalties. The Administration supports the following provisions in a mining reform bill:
--Elimination of patenting on mining claims. The patenting provisions of the 1872 Mining Law allow claimants to gain title to federal lands for as little as $2.50 per acre.
--Collection of a royalty on hard rock mining. Coal operators on federal land currently pay a 12.5 percent royalty. Both congressional reform bills contemplate a lower royalty rate on hard rock mining.
--Creation of a trust fund, to be supported from federal revenues generated by the royalties paid by industry, that would pay for the cleanup of lands damaged by past mining practices.
--Use of the land planning process to determine which lands are unsuitable for certain types of mining activity.
--Requirement of operation and reclamation plans and mandatory bonding for mining operators.
Fees for communication sites on federal lands are another example where the taxpayers do not currently receive fair return. BLM has approximately 1,500 communication right-of-way authorizations that generate $1.5-2.0 million in annual rental payments. USFS has approximately 6,000 communication authorizations which generate about $1.9 million per year. The rental fees for most authorizations have not been changed for more than four years. In addition, BLM and USFS do not have an accurate inventory of the users within existing facilities. In some instances, holders of right-of-way authorizations have subleased them to others, while the government receives no additional rent.
Previous efforts by BLM and USFS to update the rental schedule resulted in industry groups seeking congressional relief. Over the last four years, Congress has limited BLM and USFS authority to increase communication use fees. However, the 1994 Budget Reconciliation bill authorizes a 10 percent increase in communication-site fees for fiscal year 1994.
A new regulation implementing the grazing reform proposals announced on August 9, 1993, should be issued after public comment has been received. The revised fee schedule should be implemented using existing collection systems and procedures.
2. The Administration should support hard rock mining reform legislation.
A reform package should establish a royalty on hard rock mining and create a trust fund to pay for reclamation of lands damaged by past mining activities. It should also eliminate patenting of mining claims and require operation plans and mandatory bonding for mining operators.
3. The Administration should develop regulations, which should be implemented by fiscal year 1995, establishing a new rental schedule for communications sites.
The rental schedule should be based on fair market value. BLM should coordinate development of the schedule and administrative procedures with the USFS to ensure uniform application by both agencies. The new rental schedule should be easy to implement, reduce current administrative costs, and allow users to anticipate changes in payments.
Federal land use policy has been a very contentious issue in western states. Successful resolution of these problems will require a process of consensusbuilding and public involvement. Interior Secretary Babbitt recently held a series of public meetings on the grazing issue, providing a good model for developing support. The government's costs in administering a revised mining law will increase in the areas of regulatory development, permitting and reclamation, inspection and enforcement, abandoned mine lands, and administrative-judicial review. The Minerals Management Service would carry out all royalty management functions of mining law reform.
Implementing a new rental schedule for communications sites would result in better identification of unauthorized users and also generate revenue from users who are now paying little or no rent.
The new grazing fee of $4.28 per AUM would be phased in over three years. The fee would be $2.76 per AUM in the first year and $3.52 per AUM in the second year. Fiscal year 1995 is probably the earliest that the new regulations could be put into effect. Thus, implementation of a revised grazing fee, assuming a total of 18 million AUMs sold annually, would increase total receipts by $176.6 million over six years. Current law provides that 50 percent of grazing revenue be returned to the Range Improvement Account, which is used by the managing agencies for rangeland improvements. An additional 25 percent of grazing revenues are returned in payments to states and counties. No changes in BLM operating expenses are anticipated because of the new fee approach.
The House mining law reform bill (H.R. 322) would place a royalty of 8 percent on all minerals extracted from federal land, beginning in 1998. The Senate bill (S. 775) would authorize a 2 percent net royalty on the mineral value. The General Accounting Office has estimated that the gross value of mineral production on federal land in 1991 was $1.2 billion. If an 8 percent royalty were imposed on a gross value of $1.2 billion, receipts would be $96 million. Because mining reform legislation has yet to receive congressional approval, accurate estimates of new revenue from royalties cannot be made at this time. The 1994 Budget Reconciliation bill includes a $100 annual rental fee for mine operators, which will produce about $50 million in annual receipts.
USDA estimates that a new fee schedule for communication sites on USFS lands would produce an additional $23 million annually.[Endnote 2] The new fees for USFS sites should be phased in over three years to lessen the impact on permit holders. DOI estimates that a new fee schedule for communication sites could produce an additional $1 million per year on BLM lands. BLM would spend about $500,000 in administrative costs to implement the rental schedule. These administrative costs include development of an automated billing system, with the capability of producing consolidated billings for major users, and associated personnel training. After three years, costs should decline dramatically.
Budget Authority (BA), Outlays, and Revenues
(Dollars in Millions)
1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 Total
0.0 12.2 22.4 32.6 32.6 32.6 132.4
0.0 12.2 22.4 32.6 32.6 32.6 132.4
50.2 72.8 92.2 111.5 111.5 111.5 549.7
Change in FTEs
0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Protection of Natural Resources,
National Park Service, Report No. 92-I-1422 (Washington, D.C., Septembe