Interior plans merge for mine regulations office

Thursday - 10/27/2011, 9:38am EDT

By Jack Moore
Federal News Radio

Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar has launched a process that would merge the department's office for mining reclamation with the larger Bureau of Land Management.

Integrating the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) into BLM, which manages public lands, is driven by the need to find additional cost-savings — as well as by the their similar missions and responsibilities, according to an Oct. 26 memo.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. (DOI Photo by Tami A. Heilemann).

"We must always be looking for ways to make government work better, to build on our strengths, and to get the most out of the limited resources we have," Salazar wrote. He also noted OSM's and BLM's "vital natural resource missions."

The department will consult with the Office of Management and Budget and the relevant Congressional committees on the realignment plan before it goes into effect Dec. 1.

Salazar has tasked Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes with working with both of the bureau's leaders to come up with a comprehensive schedule for the consolidation by March 2012.

The realignment will focus on integrating four key areas shared between the two offices:

  • Administrative support functions. This includes human resources management, budget and communications, among others.

  • Restoration of abandoned mine lands.

  • Fee Collections. Integrating OSM's coal fee collection under the umbrella of a special office for natural resources revenue, which already handles BLM's fee collection.

  • Mining regulation, inspection and enforcement.

(See the full memo below)

Interior Dept. Memo