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Update - February 2002:

INTERIOR DEPT. SEEKS COMMENTS ON STRATEGIC PLAN

Sec. Gail Norton asks for Ideas to Guide Budget, Goals, & Performance Measures

The U.S. Department of Interior announced in January that it seeks citizen comment to help guide its strategic plan for 2002-2007. According to Secretary of Interior Gail Norton, the comments will have influence on the future of all areas of the agency's planning, which she helps to unify. The plan will be finalized sometime during March, to be used to guide the budget for fiscal year 2004.

Secretary Norton highlights the theme of the " Four C's" in her remarks about the plans for the agency's future: "consultation, cooperation and communication," all harnessed toward "conservation." Citizen comment should be directed to guide the budget by setting goals and performance measures.

The Department of Interior includes the Bureau of Land Management, Minerals Management Service, Office of Surface Mining, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Geological Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Office of Insular Affairs.

According to the guidelines released by the agency, "six outcome-goal groups" guide the process of setting the strategic plan: preservation, restoration, recreation, use, information, and service.

Credibility challenge ahead for the agency

During the past two years, the Bureau of Reclamation and Fish and Wildlife Service have been widely criticized because of their infringement on the private property rights of farmers in the Klamath Basin, Oregon, to supposedly protect two breeds of endangered suckerfish. The farmers hold deeds to water rights from President Theodore Roosevelt, but have had their irrigation water cut off by the Dept. of Interior. In the East, the National Park Service came under fire for petitioning the U.S. Department of Justice to bring eminent domain proceedings to take more land for the Appalachian Trail from the Franciscan Friars at its Graymoor monastery and retreat in Putnam County, New York.

Without a reversal of agency mindset, such negatives must surely interfere with the Department of Interior's ability to meet its goal of successful "communication," while also not boding well for its success in "consultation" and "cooperation." The years of heavy-handed infringements on the property rights of landowners by the National Park Service have given it a legacy of distrust. The name of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, charged with implementing the dreaded Endangered Species Act, as it has done in the Klamath Basin, is synonymous with infringements on private property rights and the ruination of rural landowners and economies.
Continued...

More DOI Information on Strategic Plan:

Web site:
http://www.doi.gov/gpra

How to Comment:

Comment by fax: (202) 208-2619

E-mail: doistratplan@usgu.gov

Regular mail:

Department of Interior
Office of Planning and Performance Management
Mail Stop #5258
Washington, DC 20240

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