BLM’s Move West Brings Better Understanding, Responsiveness

BLM’s Move West Brings Better Understanding, Responsiveness

July 25, 2019

An under-the-radar decision by the Trump Administration could have huge implications for residents of the Western United States.

The Department of the Interior announced on July 16th that it was moving 296 employees – including many top officials – out of the Washington, D.C. swamp and to a mixture of existing and new state offices throughout the western US.  A total of 27 of those employees – including the director and deputy director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will be housed in a new national headquarters in Grand Junction, Colorado.

In announcing the move, Assistant Secretary of Interior, Joe Balash, outlined both cost savings and enhanced responsiveness as key benefits to the western migration of BLM officials.

By enriching the state offices with technical, legal and administrative staff in tune with key, state-specific projects, reviews and caseloads, BLM should see efficiencies and decreased timelines to complete its workloads.

In the letter announcing the moves, Balash stated “Four headquarters positions will be allocated to the Alaska State Office in Anchorage, Alaska, to address needs specific to NEPA analyses, realty and business support.  The State Office requires expertise and guidance within these capacities to support:

  • Implementation of the Vietnam Veterans Allotment section of the Dingell Act (Public Law No: 116-9);
  • Navigability determinations for title purposes in utilizing the Recordable Disclaimer of Interest (RDI) process to clear title for submerged lands and RS2477 claims by the State of Alaska; and
  • Mining Law Administrative program.”

While not directly energy-related, these moves by DoI are applauded by Power The Future.  Anytime you can place expert-level employees in positions where their expertise is best-utilized, those actions should be acknowledged.  With government jobs being notorious for inefficiencies, these employees being localized and focused on state-specific needs should break that trend.

Dispersing the power from the D.C. swamp to the western US (where approximately 92% of all federal lands are found) will encourage ownership by mid-level management to their new offices, projects and priorities.