NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Improvements Needed in Internal Controls over Mining Law Administration Program Funds

August 11, 2015

The Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) Mining Law Administration Program (mining law program) is responsible for managing the exploration and development of minerals, such as gold, silver, and copper, on federal land. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) was asked to review the funding and spending of the mining law program. GAO's statistical tests of fiscal year 2013 non-payroll mining law program expenditures showed that BLM did not effectively implement controls to reasonably assure that such mining law program transactions were properly recorded and supported.

  • In interviews conducted at selected BLM offices, GAO found that some employees were charging hours of work to the mining law program based on funding allocations or supervisor instructions rather than the actual work performed, as required by BLM policies.
  • GAO found that internal control implementation deficiencies were the result of design flaws in BLM's policies and procedures as well as the lack of training and monitoring to reinforce them and BLM does not have reasonable assurance that mining law program expenditures relate to or are reasonably allocated to the program.
  • As a result, the information in BLM's financial records may be at risk of not reflecting the actual cost of the mining law program.

GAO recommends that BLM:

  • Review and update its mining law program policies and procedures, as necessary.
  • Establish procedures for communicating such changes.
  • Develop and implement a related training program.
  • Regularly monitor compliance with its policies and procedures. Interior generally agreed with the findings, concurred with GAO's recommendations, and described actions taken or planned to address each recommendation

Source:  "Improvements Needed in Internal Controls over Mining Law Administration Program Funds," U.S. Government Accountability Office, July 2015.

 

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