Detailed Information on the
Bureau of Land Management - Recreation Management Assessment

Program Code 10001087
Program Title Bureau of Land Management - Recreation Management
Department Name Department of the Interior
Agency/Bureau Name Bureau of Land Management
Program Type(s) Direct Federal Program
Assessment Year 2003
Assessment Rating Adequate
Assessment Section Scores
Section Score
Program Purpose & Design 100%
Strategic Planning 50%
Program Management 100%
Program Results/Accountability 32%
Program Funding Level
(in millions)
FY2007 $72
FY2008 $75
FY2009 $72

Ongoing Program Improvement Plans

Year Began Improvement Plan Status Comments

Work to improve consistency of baseline data and develop ambitious targets for BLM's recreation performance goals. 2007-BLM continues to make improvement in this area. All of the performance measure have data reported and customer satisfaction is high. Followup with OMB is planned for 2008 Q4.

Action taken, but not completed BLM needs to continue to improve the consistency of baseline data. The agency has been unable to report on its performance toward several of its measures. 2007-BLM is reporting data for all of the PART performance measures. The customer service results have increased since 2004 and have been consistently above 90%. 2008-BLM met with OMB Q2 for update of program focused on benefits and partnership building activities.

Completed Program Improvement Plans

Year Began Improvement Plan Status Comments

Continue to emphasize greater consistency in establishing user fees so that fees better reflect the relative costs to BLM of permitting various types of recreation. Emphasis will also continue to be placed on greater coordination with other land management agencies to improve efficiencies and customer service through joint permitting processes, interagency pass programs, and the Recreation.gov customer website.

Completed Final rules published October 1, 2002. Supplimental rules issued Feb/2004. Policy Statement and Handbook available October 2003. The regulations and the manual/handbook establish policy for administering recreation permits, associated fees, joint permitting, and customer service. 90 percent of recreation planners that issue permits and calculate fees trained. BLM is participating in an Interagency Fee Committee and Fee Council dealing with the consistent application of fees across agencies.

Develop an efficiency measure for the program.

Completed A cost per recreation visitor on BLM Public Lands was developed for the FY 2006 Budget Justifications. The measure is as follows: Cost per visitor at development and recreation recreational fee demonstation sites. The 2004 Actual Base was $6/visitor. The 2005 Planned was $7/visitor. The 2006 Planned was also $7/visitor.

Program Performance Measures

Term Type  
Long-term Outcome

Measure: Percent of recreation users satisfied with the quality of their recreation experience.

Explanation:This measure tracks the satifaction of users with their experience

Year Target Actual
2000 94% 94%
2001 94% 90%
2002 92% 93%
2003 93% 93%
2004 94% 94%
2005 94% 91%
2006 94% 97%
2007 94% 93%
2008 93%
2009 94%
2010 95%
2011 95%
2012 95%
Annual Outcome

Measure: Percent of physical facilities in Special Recreation Management Areas (SMRA) that are universally accessible.

Explanation:This measure tracks the % of accessible facilities in SMRAs

Year Target Actual
2001 10% 3%
2002 5% 5.1%
2003 7% 7%
2004 9% 7.1%
2005 7% 7%
2006 10% 8%
2007 8% 8%
2008 8%
2009 9%
2010 9%
2011 10%
2012 10%
Annual Outcome

Measure: Percent of physical facilities in Special Recreation Management Areas (SRMA) in good or fair condition.

Explanation:This measure tracks the condition of physical facilities in SMRAs either in good or fair condition.

Year Target Actual
2000 81% 84%
2001 81% 84%
2002 81% 87%
2003 82% 82%
2004 84% 87%
2005 87% 90%
2006 90% 92%
2007 92% 94%
2008 94%
2009 94%
2010 95%
2011 95%
2012 95%
Annual Outcome

Measure: Percent of recreation users satisfied with the BLM's interpretation and environmental education in SRMAs

Explanation:This measure track the satisfaction of users in the interpretation and environmental education programs in SRMAs

Year Target Actual
2000 84% 76%
2001 76% 66%
2002 70% 82%
2003 82% 82%
2004 82% 82%
2005 77% 82%
2006 82% 91%
2007 91% 81%
2008 81%
2009 82%
2010 83%
2011 83%
2012 83%
Annual Efficiency

Measure: Cost per visitor at developed recreational fee sites

Explanation:This measure allows BLM to track the cost per visitor at developed recreational fee sites. To produce the result or cost per visitor, the BLM uses the expenditures from major recreation program activities as reported in the Management Information System, divided by the total number of visitors reported. BLM specialists report visitor numbers in the Recreation Management Information System (RMIS). The final visitor numbers from RMIS are reported in the Public Lands Statistics.

Year Target Actual
2004 NA $1.34
2005 NA $1.23
2006 NA $1.44
2007 NA $1.14
2008 $1.14
2009 $1.16
2010 $1.16
2011 $1.16
2012 $1.16

Questions/Answers (Detailed Assessment)

Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design
Number Question Answer Score

Is the program purpose clear?

Explanation: BLM is responsible for providing opportunities for outdoor recreation to the American public as part of its multiple use mandate under FLPMA. All of BLM's recreation activities support the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) strategic plan goal of providing opportunities for environmentally responsible recreation. BLM has prepared several recreation strategies to provide additional clarification for balancing recreation with other uses of the public lands as well as balancing between different types of outdoor recreation.

Evidence: BLM's authorizing statute, the Federal Land Management Policy Act of 1976 (FLPMA), clearly sets out recreation as one of BLM's multiple use goals. BLM recreation strategic planning documents including Recreation 2000, the Recreation 2000 Update, and BLM's Priorities for Recreation and Visitor Services (BLM Work Plan Fiscal Years 2003-2007) provide specific direction and purpose for managing recreation on the public lands.

YES 20%

Does the program address a specific and existing problem, interest, or need?

Explanation: The need for a variety of open space and outdoor recreation opportunities is well recognized by Congress and the American public, and the types and locations of recreation BLM provides would not otherwise be addressed by the market. BLM is the steward for managing the landscape character of over 262 million acres of land, many of which provide outstanding recreation opportunities in a variety of landscape settings. BLM public lands attract over 55 million visitors annually. These visitors are drawn to what has been characterized as 'the remnants of the American Frontier'. In many areas, BLM lands provide the best, and sometimes the only, venue for self-directed, dispersed recreation.

Evidence: Annual visitation statisics and national recreation surveys. BLM's collaborative land use planning process uses extensive public input to identify issues requiring resolution in land use plans. These plans provide much of the specific direction in managing recreation and visual resources on specific parcels of public lands.

YES 20%

Is the program designed so that it is not redundant or duplicative of any Federal, state, local or private effort?

Explanation: BLM exclusively manages 262 million acres of public lands, many of which are highly valued for recreation. BLM is the only agency responsible for providing recreation access to these lands. Many of these lands provide unique and special landscapes not found elsewhere in the United States. BLM provides different recreation opportunities than those provided by the other major federal land management agencies (National Park Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA Forest Service, Army Corps of Engineers, etc.) focusing on dispersed recreation, which tends to be resource-based and, therefore, less facility-dependent. Since the BLM mission differs from other agencies, BLM is able to accommodate recreation activities not permitted elsewhere.

Evidence: FLPMA Section 102 (10). BLM's National Management Strategy for Motorized Off-Highway Vehicle Use on Public Lands. (Executive Orders 11644 and 11989 require BLM to designate lands for appropriate types of Off-Highway Vehicle use.) Interagency partnerships among BLM, National Park Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and USDA Forest Service such as the Leave No Trace program to implement educational efforts and promote responsible use of public lands.

YES 20%

Is the program design free of major flaws that would limit the program's effectiveness or efficiency?

Explanation: BLM faces a continuing balancing act in meeting public demand for recreation while providing for other uses of the public lands, such as energy and mineral production, grazing, etc. However, from planning through implementation, the recreation program has been designed to address and respond to this issue. While the lack of more uniform user fee practices could be considered a design flaw, BLM is, in many cases, challenged in its ability to charge recreation users for costs directly associated with providing recreation opportunities. BLM does charge fees in its more popular recreation areas, but for many dispersed recreation areas, the cost of collection is prohibitively high.

Evidence: FLPMA Section 102 (10). BLM's National Management Strategy for Motorized Off-Highway Vehicle Use on Public Lands. BLM recreation strategic planning documents (Recreation 2000, Priorities for Recreation and Visitor Services - 2003-2007 Work Plan).

YES 20%

Is the program effectively targeted, so program resources reach intended beneficiaries and/or otherwise address the program's purpose directly?

Explanation: Through public participation in the land use planning process, BLM, in large part, responds to specific public demands for recreation opportunities. This process also recognizes specific local needs and tailors programs to meet these needs. BLM recreation programs emphasize 'resource-dependent recreation opportunities" such as driving for pleasure, hiking, boating, trail riding, education and interpretive activities, and OHV use. While most BLM recreation use is dispersed, BLM also provides specific access through developed recreation sites and trails, visitor centers and facilities. BLM manages this use using a variety of tools such as the issuance of Recreation Use and Special Recreation Permits. There may be limited situations where resources are not effectively targeted due to program design issues. For example, because recreation fees are only collected in certain areas, some users are arguably paying less than they should be relative to other users and/or the impacts of their activities on natural resources on BLM lands.

Evidence: BLM internal guidance requires that recreation fees be re-invested at the site of collection to ensure that those paying the fees receive the benefits from improved facilities and services at the site where the fee was paid. Educational and interpretive activities have resulted in improved public awareness concerning resource values and appropriate recreation behavior. BLM's National Management Strategy for Motorized Off-Highway Vehicle Use on Public Lands shows that BLM is placing increased management emphasis and funding on dealing with the rapid growth in OHV recreation. These efforts include route designations, signing and fencing, and educational activities including the Tread Lightly program.

YES 20%
Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design Score 100%
Section 2 - Strategic Planning
Number Question Answer Score

Does the program have a limited number of specific long-term performance measures that focus on outcomes and meaningfully reflect the purpose of the program?

Explanation: Under the existing BLM Strategic plan, the GPRA Program Activity Goal: Provide Opportunities for Environmentally Responsible Recreation has four long-term and annual performance goals: - Percent of physical facilities in Special Recreation Management Areas (SRMAs) in good or fair condition; - Percent of physical facilities in SRMAs that are universally accessible; - Percent of recreation users satisfied with the quality of their recreation experience; and - Percent of recreation users satisfied with the BLM's interpretation and environmental education in SRMAs. While improvements could be made to these goals, the goals generally focus on desired program outcomes. BLM should continue to work with OMB to improve and/or expand upon these goals. Specifically, the program would benefit from the use of an efficiency measure, such as the cost per visitor.

Evidence: BLM Annual Performance Plan, 2003 and Annual Performance Report, 2001.

YES 15%

Does the program have ambitious targets and timeframes for its long-term measures?

Explanation: Baselines have been established for all the annual performance measures in the recreation program, but the accuracy of the data is unclear as is the ambitiousness of the agency's targets.

Evidence: BLM Annual Performance Plan, 2003 and Annual Performance Report, 2001. Budget Justification and Performance Information, 2004.

NO 0%

Does the program have a limited number of specific annual performance measures that demonstrate progress toward achieving the program's long-term measures?

Explanation: Currently, the BLM uses 4 annual performance measures for recreation. These may be modified somewhat upon adoption of a new Department Strategic Plan.

Evidence: Annual Performance Measures for the Recreation Management program are shown in the 2004 Budget Justifications.

YES 15%

Does the program have baselines and ambitious targets and timeframes for its annual measures?

Explanation: Baselines have been established for all the annual performance measures in the Recreation program, but again data accuracy is an issue and the targets may not be ambitious.

Evidence: BLM Annual Performance Plan, 2003 and Annual Performance Report, 2001. Budget Justification and Performance Information, 2004.

NO 0%

Do all partners (including grantees, sub-grantees, contractors, cost-sharing partners, etc.) commit to and work toward the annual and/or long-term goals of the program?

Explanation: BLM has specifically structured its partnership arrangements to ensure that high priority recreation work is being accomplished. BLM would be unable to meet it targets without the help of partners and volunteers. Reported accomplishments include partner contributions.

Evidence: BLM enters into partnerships with other federal, state, and local agencies and private partners to leverage resources and avoid duplicative efforts. About 2/3 of all BLM's partnerships are in the recreation program with over 500 partnerships nationwide. One example is the interagency partnership among BLM, NPS, FWS, and USDA Forest Service to work with the Leave No Trace Center to implement educational efforts to promote responsible use of the public lands. Case studies of Partnerships in BLM, July 2002.

YES 10%

Are independent and quality evaluations of sufficient scope and quality conducted on a regular basis or as needed to support program improvements and evaluate effectiveness and relevance to the problem, interest, or need?

Explanation: BLM conducts a variety of annual and periodic evaluations to ensure program effectiveness and improvements, but these evaluations do not appear to meet the independence and scope criteria.

Evidence: Periodic audits of commercial operations authorized under Special Recreation Permit authority. Recreational Fee Demonstration audits.

NO 0%

Are Budget requests explicitly tied to accomplishment of the annual and long-term performance goals, and are the resource needs presented in a complete and transparent manner in the program's budget?

Explanation: Program requests have traditionally been based on broad assertions of need, rather than being tied to specific performance goals and related data.

Evidence: BLM Congressional Budget Justification, 2004.

NO 0%

Has the program taken meaningful steps to correct its strategic planning deficiencies?

Explanation: BLM has for a number of years placed strong emphasis on developing plans and strategies for addressing recreation issues to ensure that high priority work is being accomplished that will meet both present and future needs.

Evidence: BLM recreation strategies include Recreation 2000 and BLM's FY 2003-2007 Workplan. These documents provide specific direction and purpose for managing recreation on the public lands. BLM's National Off-Highway Vehicle Strategy also recognizes the unique challenges in managing this particular type of recreation use.

YES 10%
Section 2 - Strategic Planning Score 50%
Section 3 - Program Management
Number Question Answer Score

Does the agency regularly collect timely and credible performance information, including information from key program partners, and use it to manage the program and improve performance?

Explanation: Each BLM field office regularly reports accomplishments into the Management Information System (MIS). State Offices and the Washington Office review these accomplishments against targets at several points in the year. Budget allocation adjustments and corrective actions are taken after these reviews are completed. BLM uses customer surveys to obtain user feedback on BLM performance. These surveys include the on-site surveys at developed recreation sites that provide input into the two customer satisfaction performance measures and the periodic survey administered to commercial Special Recreation Permit holders.

Evidence: 2003 Midyear Review and subsequent adjustments. Annual recreation program cost analysis conducted pursuant to Instruction Memorandum No. 2003-122. Annual report of contributed volunteer hours. Annual visitor surveys. Annual reporting of contributed funds leveraged through the Challenge Cost Share Program.

YES 25%

Are Federal managers and program partners (grantees, subgrantees, contractors, cost-sharing partners, etc.) held accountable for cost, schedule and performance results?

Explanation: BLM evaluates the work performance of all employees annually. Senior level managers' performance is reviewed quarterly. Where appropriate, field manager evaluations include key recreation management goals. Many elements within an employee's annual evaluation are tied to agency output measures. BLM tracks performance on 4 specific objectives related to recreation. Each objective has an assigned senior manager with lead responsibility for tracking/reporting completion or implementation progress, as well as the current status of each objective. There is also an established target date for completion or implementation. The Director's Tracking System presents the Director with the ability to track key recreation measures. The Director can see in real time what has been reported compared to targets for key output measures such as the numbers of recreation permits issued. The report also shows costs by program element.

Evidence: BLM's Employee Performance Plan and Results Reports. BLM's Management by Objectives System. Director's Tracking System.

YES 10%

Are all funds (Federal and partners') obligated in a timely manner and spent for the intended purpose?

Explanation: The BLM has established a guideline for its offices to allow no more than two percent carryover with no overspending for the fiscal year. In the recreation management programs, one percent of available funding was unspent at the end of 2001 and 2002. The major exception to these fiscal constraints is that Bureau policy allows for recreation fees collected and deposited to be retained until sufficient funding has accumulated and is available for use on significant projects to correct deferred maintenance deficiencies. Internal reviews are also used to ensure that funds are spent for the intended purpose.

Evidence: MIS report on Year End Carryover, 2000-2002 (MIS reports, which are linked to the agency's financial system, indicate that overall BLM spent 99% of appropriated recreation management funds, although a few offices deviated by more than the target of 2% carryover.) Annual Recreation Fee Demonstration Program Report to Congress. Annual recreation program cost analysis.

YES 17%

Does the program have procedures (e.g., competitive sourcing/cost comparisons, IT improvements, approporaite incentives) to measure and achieve efficiencies and cost effectiveness in program execution?

Explanation: The BLM uses its MIS to track the performance and unit costs for all programs. An annual performance analysis is conducted to compare offices in achieving reduced unit costs and maximum output. The BLM is cooperating with DOI to provide a standard source for recreation information under the Recreation One-Stop initiative linked to the federal 'E-Government' effort. Facility accessibility data are being developed using the Accessibility Data Management System in cooperation with the Bureau of Reclamation.

Evidence: Annual recreation program cost analysis. Recreation.gov and the National Recreation Reservation System are the first website-based products in the federal 'E-Government' effort. The BLM continues to operate the Recreation MIS as the central repository for recreation-related information. This system is being linked to the Collections and Billing System and other automated systems as a means to avoid redundant data entry. Accessibility Data Management System inventory annual results.

YES 14%

Does the program collaborate and coordinate effectively with related programs?

Explanation: BLM coordinates with other federal agencies and offices (NPS, FWS, USDA Forest Service, Army Corps, etc.) to achieve efficiency and coordination in the recreation program, including, where possible, joint recreation program management. Program coordinates internally with the National Landscape Conservation System Office and other resource groups to assure consistency in application of policy and management actions across all BLM lands.

Evidence: Interagency Fee Council participation to implement the Recreation Fee Demonstration Program. United States Bureau of Reclamation coordination concerning facility accessibility. Participation with the National Association for Interpretation to provide interpretive training. Participation in various programs including the Leave No Trace and Tread Lightly land use stewardship program. Joint BLM-USFS Service First operations.

YES 10%

Does the program use strong financial management practices?

Explanation: The BLM has received seven consecutive unqualified audit opinions, of which the recreation program was an integral component. Key to its success has been the availability of timely and accurate financial information made available to all employees through its MIS. The BLM has also met or exceeded its goals under the Prompt Payment Act and goals to reduce or eliminate erroneous payments.

Evidence: Independent audit evaluations and unqualified audit opinions.

YES 10%

Has the program taken meaningful steps to address its management deficiencies?

Explanation: BLM has developed strategies to address a number of deficiencies, including the recent development of plans for improving OHV management, though much work remains in actual implementation. BLM has also used the Rec Fee Demo authority to improve priority recreation facilities. Nevertheless, BLM could potentially improve its ability to maintain more recreation sites and provide better visitor services through a more systematic evaluation of user fee practices and improved cost recovery.

Evidence: National Management Strategy for Motorized Off-Highway Vehicle Use on Public Lands and National Mountain Bicycling Strategic Action Plan. Annual Recreational Fee Demonstration Program Report to Congress. ADMS facility inventory and implementation plans to make access improvements. GAO Report (02-10), November 2001: Recreation Fees - Management Improvements Can Help the Demonstration Program Enhance Visitor Services.

YES 14%
Section 3 - Program Management Score 100%
Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability
Number Question Answer Score

Has the program demonstrated adequate progress in achieving its long-term outcome performance goals?

Explanation: Data on long-term performance goals is spotty, but does not indicate progress is being made in meeting key goals such as visitor satisfaction. This is a result, in part, of BLM's lack of good information on the baseline status for some measures. In other cases, such as visitor satisfaction, the baseline seems to have shifted based on changing methodologies for collecting performance information. In one instance, visitor satisfaction information was not collected at all due to problems in implementing the survey instrument. One of the keys to improving long-term performance information is to ensure consistency in performance data collection over time.

Evidence: See measures worksheet.

NO 0%

Does the program (including program partners) achieve its annual performance goals?

Explanation: Annual goals for facility conditions have been met regularly, although targets may not represent stretch goals. Vistor satisfaction goal was met in 2000, but not in 2001. The same baseline problems exist for BLM's short-term and long-term goals.

Evidence: See measures worksheet.


Does the program demonstrate improved efficiencies or cost effectiveness in achieving program performance goals each year?

Explanation: Sufficient evidence has not been presented to indicate actual improvements in efficiency or cost effectiveness. However, BLM's Management Information System allows for depicting the cost per unit of output, thus allowing comparison from one year to the next. BLM indicates that states are sharing best management practices from one state to another, thereby allowing for improved efficiencies.

Evidence: Annual recreation program cost analysis. This analysis served as the basis for a report to management concerning planned versus actual accomplishments and the average unit cost per office. BLM reports that field offices are using these data to adjust operations and improve efficiency. Accountability is also being improved as offices strive to correct past reporting errors. The analysis indicated that variation among states is being reduced by more accurate and consistent reporting and by efforts to streamline standardized processes. Recreational Fee Demonstration Program Site Evaluation.

NO 0%

Does the performance of this program compare favorably to other programs, including government, private, etc., that have similar purpose and goals?

Explanation: Visitor satisfaction scores are reasonably comparable to those of other recreation agencies such as NPS and the Forest Service. BLM must also deal with a higher degree of unique challenges (e.g., dispersed recreation, OHV use) and does so within a smaller budget relative to some other programs.

Evidence: Cost per visitor data. Comparison of visitor satisfaction rates.


Do independent and quality evaluations of this program indicate that the program is effective and achieving results?

Explanation: Few current independent evaluations exist. Those that do exist have not identified major problems with BLM's Recreation program, but have identified some areas in need of improvement.

Evidence: GAO Report (02-10), November 2001: Recreation Fees - Management Improvements Can Help the Demonstration Program Enhance Visitor Services.

Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability Score 32%

Last updated: 09062008.2003SPR