Bureau of Land Management: Better Workforce Preparing and Knowledge Would Support Mitigate the Consequences of Latest Staff Vacancies

What GAO Identified

Given that 2016, the Section of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) altered its organizational framework by merging or transferring several of its headquarters functions. BLM also moved its headquarters from Washington, D.C., to Grand Junction, CO, and relocated most of its headquarters positions to its new headquarters and other places of work in 11 western states. In September 2021, the Secretary announced ideas to return the headquarters to Washington, D.C.

Because 2016, BLM’s workforce composition improved in several ways, including via increases in headquarters vacancies and in non permanent reassignments—known as details—to fill the responsibilities of these vacant positions. BLM senior officials advised GAO they do not have dependable and dependable knowledge on vacancies company-broad or the use of aspects. Nevertheless, BLM delivered some vacancy details for headquarters positions from July 2019 to May possibly 2021. In accordance to these information, the selection of vacant headquarters positions elevated immediately after BLM announced the relocation of its headquarters in July 2019, as demonstrated in the figure under.

BLM Headquarters Vacancies from July 2019 to May well 2021

Most BLM workers GAO spoke with reported vacancies in essential headquarters positions brought about delays in making or clarifying advice or policy. Additional, some reported an improved reliance on specifics negatively influenced their office’s performance—for illustration, for the reason that condition business team in depth to headquarters decreased capability in condition offices. Without having comprehensive and trusted facts on vacancies and facts throughout the agency, BLM officials are not able to make informed selections about filling vacancies and initiating details to aid the agency realize its mission and ambitions.

GAO also observed that BLM does not have an agency-wide strategic workforce program that supports its mission and programmatic goals. BLM officials instructed GAO their mechanism for strategic workforce setting up is a 2019 memorandum, but this memorandum frequently does not handle the two essential requirements that outline strategic workforce scheduling: (1) aligning the human cash program with emerging mission objectives and (2) developing long-expression methods for attaining, building, and retaining workers to obtain programmatic objectives. Without a strategic workforce prepare that addresses these demands, BLM lacks reasonable assurance the company will have the workforce required to realize its goals in running millions of acres of public lands.

Why GAO Did This Study

BLM’s workforce of about 8,800 everlasting staff members is responsible for a portfolio of general public lands, which, according to BLM, encompasses far more than 245 million area acres, largely in western states. BLM’s mission includes managing these lands for a assortment of takes advantage of when sustaining organic and cultural resources. BLM headquarters provides national plan direction to the relaxation of BLM, although point out workplaces usually administer programs in the states. Since 2016, BLM’s workforce has experienced choosing constraints and a reorganization.

GAO was asked to review recent adjustments to BLM’s workforce and the agency’s workforce arranging efforts. This report examines, for the period of time given that 2016, (1) improvements in BLM’s organizational construction, (2) adjustments in BLM’s workforce composition, and (3) the extent to which BLM has experienced a strategic workforce system that supports its mission and targets.

GAO analyzed BLM workforce data, info on organizational adjustments, and workforce planning documents from 2016 to 2021, and interviewed 13 BLM staff members customers from workplaces impacted by organizational and workforce changes.