Bureau of Land Management Move Triggers Another Investigation by Watchdog

Bureau of Land Management Move Triggers Another Investigation by Watchdog

  • September 17, 2021

Hurried action by Department of the Interior will move leadership thousands of miles from land and people they manage

Today, Protect the Public’s Trust announced it will be investigating the decision-making process that resulted in the move of headquarters personnel of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from Grand Junction, Colorado, to Washington, DC. This decision, which reverses a 2020 Department of the Interior (DOI) action, aligns with the position lobbied for by former employers of many current appointees and could be quite difficult to execute without cutting corners.

PPT is concerned DOI’s knee-jerk decision will open the BLM to significant liability from employment actions, lead to claims of arbitrary decision-making and create greater opportunity for misconduct to occur. According to reports and documents from Interior personnel, last year’s decision to move BLM out west took years to study and implement. Now, within six months of Secretary Haaland being confirmed, the Department has announced a similarly robust decision but likely without any of the substantive analysis that supported the agency’s previous action. The public should not be surprised to see this cause more litigation and employee disruption and raise appropriations issues if the proper procedures were not followed.

“This move is certainly appropriate for a Friday afternoon news dump,” stated Protect the Public’s Trust Director, Michael Chamberlain. “Protect the Public’s Trust will be investigating whether all of the appropriate procedures and protocols were followed in the development of this decision – if the proper cost/benefit analysis, employee surveys, relocations analysis and other studies were properly performed. In the wake of the ongoing Inspector General investigation of the bureau’s Nada Culver, other complaints and controversy surrounding Interior leadership, concerns about potential conflicts of interest among high-ranking staff, this only adds to the questions around the operations and management of the Department under Secretary Haaland.”