Detailed Information on the
Bureau of Land Management - Land Use Planning Assessment

Program Code 10003707
Program Title Bureau of Land Management - Land Use Planning
Department Name Department of the Interior
Agency/Bureau Name Bureau of Land Management
Program Type(s) Direct Federal Program
Assessment Year 2005
Assessment Rating Results Not Demonstrated
Assessment Section Scores
Section Score
Program Purpose & Design 100%
Strategic Planning 12%
Program Management 72%
Program Results/Accountability 13%
Program Funding Level
(in millions)
FY2006 $49
FY2007 $49
FY2008 $50

Program Improvement Plans

Year Began Improvement Plan Status Comments

Develop an agency-wide monitoring strategy to identify data gaps and coordinate the collection and reporting of key performance data. BLM briefed OMB on the progress of the monitoring strategy on March 6, 2007. Pilot projects are ongoing. Implementation strategies related to land health at the local, regional, and national scale will be completed in 2007. These effors are being coordinated with other Federal agencies and the Department of Interior.

Completed BLM will continue to work with OMB on the completion strategy for this action in 2007 Q4.

Develop new performance measures to assess the timeliness and implementation of land use plans. 2007-BLM has developed 4 new performance measures and briefed OMB on April 26, 2007. The efficiency measure was approved. The other measures are still in development.

Action taken, but not completed BLM is projecting targets for the 4 new performance measures thru 2012 and will report actuals in 2007. Prior year data has also been collected for the efficiency measure.

Program Performance Measures

Term Type  
Annual Efficiency

Measure: Percent of Resource Management Plans completed within four years of start


Year Target Actual
2005 na 55% (6/11)
2006 na 55% (11/20)
2007 60% (12/20)
2008 75% (6/8)

Questions/Answers (Detailed Assessment)

Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design
Number Question Answer Score

Is the program purpose clear?

Explanation: The primary authorizing statute for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) of 1976. FLPMA established that BLM public lands are to be managed for multiple uses. Maintaining current land use plans is central to all authorized management actions on BLM-managed lands. FLPMA requires that public land use plans have goals and objectives to meet BLM's multiple-use mission and that BLM use a cyclical planning process to ensure that land use plans and implementation decisions remain consistent with applicable laws, regulations, and policies. This allows for continuous adjustments to respond to new issues and changing circumstances. All activities on BLM lands are governed by 162 land use plans (also known as "Resource Management Plans", or RMPs) covering all of the lands that BLM manages (both surface and subsurface). BLM's Resource Management Planning Program (or "Planning Program") is responsible for comprehensively reviewing, completing, and updating BLM land use plans. The planning process provides for the active participation of other government agencies, the public, local user groups, and commercial interests throughout plan development. Planning is the underpinning for BLM's other programs, and therefore contributes to all of the agency's outcome goals.

Evidence: "Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA) BLM planning regulations (43 CFR 1600), 1983 BLM Land Use Planning Handbook National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA, 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations (40 CFR 1500-1508) "

YES 20%

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

Explanation: Land use planning is the primary method that the BLM uses to establish a balance between land use and resource protection. A cyclical planning process is needed to address new resource demands and conditions, changing legal or other policy requirements, and an evolving understanding of the science of natural systems and human impacts on those systems.

Evidence: "FLPMA BLM planning regulations BLM Land Use Planning Handbook "

YES 20%

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

Explanation: The planning process is unique to BLM-managed lands and is directly tied to the agency's authorizing legislation, which requires that the bureau develop and maintain management plans for the public lands. No other agency has management responsibility over BLM lands. FLPMA ensures that BLM's plan development activities are not duplicated at other governmental levels by requiring coordination with Federal, State, Tribal, and local governments throughout the planning process.

Evidence: "FLPMA BLM planning regulations BLM Land Use Planning Handbook"

YES 20%

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

Explanation: The Planning Program is designed to monitor, evaluate, and amend land use plan decisions in a continuous cycle to ensure that the land use plan decision framework is up-to-date. BLM state and local offices, in coordination with other BLM resource programs, are ultimately responsible for implementing approved land use plans through activity level plans and subsequent on-the-ground actions., The Planning Program is also responsible for monitoring the implementation of land use plans, while the BLM's other programs are responsible for monitoring to ensure that actions are implemented as designed and are meeting the desired results. In recognition of the importance of monitoring, BLM has established a National Monitoring Strategy which is coordinated by an interdisciplinary committee involving various BLM programs. Planning is a key partner of this committee and works to help facilitate ensuring that effectiveness monitoring is an interdisciplinary effort and that actions are leading toward meeting BLM land use plan goals\objectives.

Evidence: "FLPMA BLM planning regulations BLM Land Use Planning Handbook Planning Program Organizational Chart (DRAFT) "

YES 20%

Is the program design effectively targeted so that resources will address the program's purpose directly and will reach intended beneficiaries?

Explanation: The program is designed so that BLM has the flexibility to prioritize planning efforts to meet targeted beneficiaries and to proceed with the planning process in an orderly, efficient manner. Plans that are funded on an annual basis must meet established selection criteria that reflect the program's purpose and national priorities in concert with local and regional needs. BLM must have current or updated plans to implement management actions on public lands and to comply with legal mandates. BLM is able to build the required consultation and environmental review requirements into the process for individual plans to ensure that stakeholders have input into the process and issues can be addressed in a timely manner. This allows for a balancing of often competing interests among the many external beneficiaries of BLM programs, including the users of BLM public lands; the general public; local, State, and Tribal governments; and other Federal agencies.

Evidence: "FLPMA Sections 103(d), 309 BLM planning regulations (43 CFR 1600), 1983 BLM Land Use Planning Handbook CEQ regulations (40 CFR 1500-1508) NEPA regulations (40 CFR 1501.5 and 1501.6) "

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: The program has only one long-term measure, and it is focused more on an output (number of plans completed) than on an outcome. The program has a number of other shorter-term output/workload measures to ensure that land use plan revisions stay on track, but these measures are also process-oriented and not strategic in nature. Moreover, none of the existing measures within the Planning Program addresses the critical issue of implementation effectiveness.

Evidence: FY 2006 Congressional Budget Justifications

NO 0%

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

Explanation: Program received a "No" on Question 2.1 because the existing program measures are too focused on workload/outputs. Therefore, the response to this question must be "No".

Evidence: N/A

NO 0%

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

Explanation: The program has developed a measure relating to completed plans/amendments that may be used to demonstrate progress toward achieving the program goal of completing and maintaining up-to-date land use plans. However, the planning program does not have an annual measure that ties back to a long term measure related to implementation effectiveness.

Evidence: FY 2006 Congressional Budget Justifications

NO 0%

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

Explanation: Program received a "No" on Question 2.3 because the program has only one measure and needs to establish a target. Therefore, the response to this question must be "No".

Evidence: N/A

NO 0%

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

Explanation: The role of BLM's primary program partners (i.e., contractors) is limited and, therefore, partners would not be expected to commit to and work toward BLM's broader annual and long-term goals. Contractors assist only with the development and completion of land use plans, and not with other program goals such as plan monitoring and evaluation. However, contractors do commit to completing individual land use plans, or components of plans, through enforceable contracts with BLM that specify required tasks, deliverables, and project schedules.

Evidence: Contract Statement of Work, BLM Ukiah Planning Area. Coeur d'Alene Preparation Plan.

NA 0%

Are independent 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: Independent evaluations of sufficient scope have not been conducted, though BLM has sought external advice on some aspects of the program. At the request of BLM, the Northern Arizona University (NAU) conducted a review in FY 2005 of contractor views on BLM's planning process to identify opportunities to improve contractor-BLM relationships and increase project management effectiveness. The Planning Program has also recently hired a contractor to conduct an independent survey to evaluate the Bureau's effectiveness with public involvement, including collaboration and agency cooperation during the planning process.

Evidence: Northern Arizona University (NAU) Social Science Research Center Review BLM Land Use Planning Focus Group Report Summary On-going BLM Customer Survey

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: Budget documents are not directly linked to performance, in part due to the lack of adequate performance measures. However, requests also do not present any unit cost information and do not report the indirect costs (such as program overhead) of achieving program outputs.

Evidence: FY 2006 Congressional Budget Justifications

NO 0%

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

Explanation: BLM has recently recognized the need for the Planning Program to serve a greater role in coordinating the collection, reporting, and analysis of monitoring data among BLM's many programs. To this end, the agency has established a Monitoring Coordinator position within the Planning Program. This position facilitates the interdisciplinary committee that coordinates BLM's National Monitoring Strategy. Better coordination will help improve BLM's monitoring information base. Effective monitoring will help ensure that BLM leadership and managers have all of the information necessary to: 1) effectively prioritize land use planning efforts across geographic areas, 2) evaluate the effectiveness of completed plans, and 3) establish more meaningful resource protection goals and track progress toward those goals over time. However, BLM still needs to develop additional annual and long term outcome measures for the program. DOI will work with OMB to identify additional long-term and annual measures to better gauge the performance of the program in the future.

Evidence: FY 2006 Congressional Budget Justifications Planning Program Organizational Chart (DRAFT)

YES 12%
Section 2 - Strategic Planning Score 12%
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: The Bureau uses its Management Information System (MIS) to track performance on a quarterly basis, and the Planning Program uses a 10-year planning schedule to track performance information for land use planning projects. Using these tools, BLM compares project performance to the goals that are established for each land use plan. Cost and performance information is used to adjust individual project schedules and funding priorities throughout the year and to develop funding priorities for future years. The agency has taken small steps to reward effective financial management within the program, although more could be done in this regard.

Evidence: "2004\2005 BLM Planning Target Allocation Analyses BLM 10 Year Planning Project Schedule BLM Time Sensitive Plan Schedule IM 2003-260, FY 2003 Third Quarter Review Decisions IM 2005-155, FY 2005 Mid-Year Review Decisions. "

YES 14%

Are Federal managers and program partners (including grantees, sub-grantees, contractors, cost-sharing partners, and other government partners) held accountable for cost, schedule and performance results?

Explanation: BLM indicates that program managers are held accountable through the personnel appraisal system, but managers' appraisals do not appear to be sufficiently linked to broader program goals or performance measures. A sample BLM State Director appraisal listed specific plans for which the Director was responsible, but the details of those plans (e.g., deadlines, etc.) were not clearly identified in the appraisal and performance was not assessed in a way that each State Director's performance could be rolled up and assessed relative to the program's broader performance targets. However, contractors hired by the BLM to work on planning projects must meet cost targets and deadlines identified by BLM through contractual requirements in Statements of Work (SOWs). Planning contracts also consider contractor past performance.

Evidence: Sample BLM State Director Performance Appraisal. Canyons of the Ancients RMP Statement of Work and BLM action taken to terminate contract due to lack of contractor performance. New York RMP Statement of Work.

NO 0%

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

Explanation: Funds are obligated in accordance with BLM's annual work plan, which lays out final funding allocations for offices and centers to support planning projects. BLM sets a target for each program to carry over less than 2% of its funds from one year to the next. Carryover in the Planning Program was 1% in FY 2003 and 1.5% in FY 2004.

Evidence: BLM Mid-Year and End-of-Year Review reports. BLM MIS system data.

YES 14%

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

Explanation: The program does not meet the criteria for this question because it currently has no efficiency measures in place. However, BLM has developed a new efficiency measure that tracks and measures the performance of three different types of plans being completed within specified, aggressive time targets. Additionally the program does use its Management Information System to measure the cost and performance of various planning activities, and BLM implemented an online planning system (e-Planning) in 2002 to help streamline the planning process. Beginning in FY 2004, the BLM also began an effort to increase the use of performance-based contracts in the program and estimates that approximately 40% of the current planning contracts are performance-based.

Evidence: 2004\2005 BLM Planning Target Allocation Analyses. e-Planning Report.

NO 0%

Does the program collaborate and coordinate effectively with related programs?

Explanation: The BLM routinely coordinates, and where appropriate, actively partners with appropriate federal, state, local, and tribal governments to develop land use plans. This includes federal agencies that have adjoining boundaries such as the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service. In some cases, BLM has even partnered with these agencies to develop a single land use plan for an area to be managed jointly by the two agencies. In addition, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is a frequent Cooperating Agency for BLM plans, and the development of species recovery plans is often coordinated with BLM's broader planning efforts.

Evidence: Joint land use plans: Craters of the Moon National Monument RMP\EIS and the El Camino RMP (BLM-National Park Service); Northwest Forest Plan and the Santa Rosa RMP (BLM-Forest Service). BLM's Desk Guide to Cooperating Agency Relationships. Lower Potomac River Coordinated Management Plan and Jack Morrow Hills CAP\Draft EIS (consulting agencies). BLM Reporting Guidance for FWS Recovery Plans.

YES 14%

Does the program use strong financial management practices?

Explanation: BLM has received seven consecutive unqualified audit opinions, of which the Planning Program is a significant component. The availability of timely and accurate financial information made available to all employees through its MIS is an important factor. BLM has also met or exceeded its goals under the Prompt Payment Act and goals to reduce or eliminate erroneous payments. There are no current material weaknesses identified in the program, and the program has no direct relationship to the identified agency-wide material weaknesses.

Evidence: FY 2004 Independent Auditors Annual Report. BLM's MIS system data. BLM 2004 Annual Report (Annual BLM Fiscal Statement).

YES 14%

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

Explanation: "As a result of significant funding increases provided for the program in recent years, the program needed to rapidly "ramp up" its activities. BLM found it necessary to contract out much of the work involved in completing land use plans, and the significant use of contracting in completing land use plans has been a learning process for the agency. Based on the NAU review and BLM's own internal survey of program staff, a number of issues and problems associated with the contracting process were identified. In response, BLM is taking a number of steps to address these issues, including: 1) developing a decision tree to identify what deliverables should be contracted versus completing the work "in-house;" 2) providing contractor training on BLM's planning process; and 3) improving contracting documents to better reflect and clarify the project roles and responsibilities of the BLM and of the contractor. BLM is also working to increase the use of performance-based contracts in the program. In addition, BLM has developed an electronic planning (e-Planning) website to simplify the public review and comment process and save money on travel, printing, and publishing costs. "

Evidence: Report on follow-up actions from 2005 BLM Land Use Plan Budget Strategy meeting. e-Planning Report. BLM National Training Center training data.

YES 14%
Section 3 - Program Management Score 72%
Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability
Number Question Answer Score

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

Explanation: Program received a "No" in Question 2.1 because existing measures are not adequate. Based on the program's existing long-term measure (the percent of areas und DOI management or influence covered by completed management plans since FY 2001), BLM has made modest progress in updating its land use plans and anticipates substantial progress in the next few years as many plans currently in progress are completed. However, this progress is largely a function of very large funding increases the program has received in recent years, and some targets have still not been met. BLM indicates its original estimate of completing plans within three years of start represented an overly ambitious target.

Evidence: FY 2006 BLM Congressional Budget Justifications.

NO 0%

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

Explanation: Program received a "No" in Question 2.3 because existing measures are not adequate. The program has also not met many of its output goals related to plan completion over the last few years.

Evidence: FY 2006 BLM Congressional Budget Justifications.

NO 0%

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

Explanation: The program does not meet the PART criteria for Question 3.4 because it does not currently have an efficiency measure in place. Therefore, the response to this question must be "No". However, BLM does appear to have made modest progress in some respects toward improving the efficiency of its planning efforts. For example, certain state-level land use plan evaluations had identified a need to revise all field office land use plan decisions related to wildland fire management. In Arizona and New Mexico, BLM determined that the most efficient way to accomplish this task was to complete statewide land use plan amendments, rather than amending individual plans. For New Mexico, nine fire plans were consolidated into one statewide fire amendment, saving approximately $200,000 per plan. In addition, e-Planning is expected to result in savings on several typically high-expense activities associated with development of a plan (such as travel, printing, and desktop publishing). The agency estimates that e-Planning typically saves $15,000 in printing costs for every document published online. Once fully developed and implemented, e-Planning is projected to save BLM roughly $1 million per year and achieve a 10% time savings in plan development. However, these efficiencies have been offset by other increases in land use plan development costs, including increased costs and time associated with expanded efforts to coordinate and consult with local governments. Therefore, the overall picture in terms of the program's ability to demonstrate improved efficiencies over time is more mixed.

Evidence: New Mexico Statewide Fire Amendment Summary. e-Planning Cost Benefit Analysis Report, November 2004.

NO 0%

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

Explanation: There are few other programs with which fair comparisons to BLM's planning program can be made. However, the Forest Service is the one agency with a very similar mission and planning requirements. Few data are available to compare many program components, but based on a study two years ago, Forest Service plans have been taking longer to complete than BLM plans and have higher direct costs per plan. BLM plans have averaged three to four years to complete since FY 2001. A typical BLM RMP varies in cost from approximately $2.5 million to $4.0 million (direct costs only) depending on the type and scope of plan (e.g., a small land unit of the National Landscape Conservation System vs. a complex Energy Development Plan). The Forest Service's plans have averaged $5.4 million per plan for 9 plans that were evaluated in FY 2002. The Forest Service has also had difficulty in meeting its goals for revising land use plans.

Evidence: Forest Service Land and Resource Management Planning: The Status of Activities, 2002. BLM Cost Data available to-date based on the Land Use Planning Contracting Survey.


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

Explanation: There has not been an independent evaluation of sufficient scope completed to gauge the planning program's effectiveness and its ability to achieve results. Based on the NAU review referenced in Questions 2.6 and 3.7 and BLM's own internal survey of program staff, a number of issues and problems associated with the contracting process were identified. BLM is working to resolve these problems.

Evidence: Northern Arizona University (NAU) Social Science Research Center Review

NO 0%
Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability Score 13%

Last updated: 08132007.2005SPR