U.S. Interior Secretary orders OSM/BLM consolidation to proceed
A Department of the Interior report endorses merging OSM and BLM administrative functions, as well as the enactment of an AML fee on hardrock mining.
Posted: Wednesday , 14 Mar 2012
RENO (MINEWEB) -
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."
The senior leadership team included Deputy Interior Secretary David J. Hayes, Acting Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Marcilynn Burke, OSM Director Joseph Pizarchik and BLM Director Bob Abbey.
"After extensive consultation with employees and stakeholders and a comprehensive review by our senior leadership, it is clear that there are significant efficiencies to be gained by consolidating duplicative administrative functions in these bureaus," said Salazar. "Implementing these actions will free up savings and management time that can be used to strengthen OSM's capacity to oversee surface coal mining operations, while maintaining the agency's independence."
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. ISM will maintain responsibility for managing the Abandoned Mine Land fund, and serve as the department's primary provider of AML physical hazards remediation design and project management.
The panel suggests a new Secretarial Order be issued that instructs the Directors of OSM, BLM and ONRR [Office of Natural Resource Revenue] to develop plans to implement the recommendations.