GAO Found the BLM Chronically Mismanaging Bonding Program for Renewable Energy Projects
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
CONTACT: Parish Braden
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations today held a hearing to review a report published yesterday by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) that found the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is chronically mismanaging its bonding program for renewable energy projects.
The report found that BLM systems for tracking bonds are unreliable and inconsistent; BLM does not adequately bond some rights-of-way; BLM does not consistently document how it makes bond amount decisions; and BLM’s physical handling and storage of bonds is also deficient, which became a focal point during the hearing.
Click the image below to view key exchanges between Subcommittee Chairman Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Amata Radewagen (American Samoa, At-large) and representatives from GAO and BLM on the report’s findings.
According to the report, the national BLM office that oversees wind and solar projects does not have any policies or guidance regarding the proper handling and storage of bond instruments. BLM staff in multiple offices told GAO that bonds were stored in the project files instead of in a secured cabinet or safe. At one field office, a BLM employee who was conducting a bond inventory discovered that some bonds were missing and later advised GAO that bonds were accidentally shredded.
“This is part of a broader problem and emblematic of a bigger issue of stunning mismanagement that is plaguing the bureau,” Chairman Rob Bishop stated yesterday upon the report’s release.
“This is a potentially serious issue,” stated Subcommittee Ranking Member Debbie Dingell (D-MI) during the hearing.
In 2012, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of the Interior evaluated BLM’s renewable energy program and found many of the same issues. Following the 2012 OIG evaluation, the BLM pledged to take corrective action by April 2013.
“Instead of heeding this advice, we are here 3 years later to hold BLM accountable for the many problems that both the OIG and now the GAO have documented,” Subcommittee Chairman Gohmert said.
Click here to learn more about the hearing and GAO’s report.