About the Program
The BLM protects, manages, and controls wild horses and burros under the authority of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 to ensure that healthy herds thrive on healthy rangelands. Learn more about the program following this link, or click here to go to the feedback page.
Wild Horse and Burro News
BLM Statement Regarding Decision of Utah Department of Corrections
The BLM's Utah State Office has valued our relationship with the Utah Department of Corrections and regret that it has decided to terminate the Wild Horse Inmate Program (WHIP) at Gunnison. This program has aided in the rehabilitation of inmates and has, through the gentling of horses, helped place animals into good, private care.
UDC's decision will complicate national efforts to make sure there is enough off-range holding capacity for wild horses and burros removed from public rangelands and it will force BLM-Utah to place virtually all of the 1,126 Gunnison horses in facilities outside of Utah.
BLM-Utah has worked closely with Utah Correctional Industries for more than a year to resolve the financial issues set forth in the audit conducted by the Interior Department's Office of Inspector General, which issued its findings in September 2013 - Read Report (http://on.doi.gov/1lYsvwz).
The BLM estimates that it has overpaid UCI by approximately $2 million. The agency is in the process of securing an outside, independent audit to verify this figure.
In 2007, BLM-Utah entered into a Cooperative Agreement with Utah Correctional Industries (UCI), a division of the Utah Department of Corrections, for the gentling and housing of wild horses. The agreement allowed reimbursement payments to UCI on a per-horse, per-day rate. However, the agreement included appropriate provisions and citations that restrict payment to UCI for only allowable costs. The agreement ran through September 2012, with total payments to UCI of $5,338,880. Because of certain discrepancies in accounting for actual expenditures, the BLM requested an audit by DOI's Office of Inspector General (OIG).
In its report, issued September 30, 2013, the OIG audit found $1,076,464 in questionable costs (concerning the allowability of reported costs) and $928,089 in unsupported costs (expenditures for proper purposes but without supporting documentation). From October 2013 until March 2014, BLM officials worked with UCI personnel to address the questionable and unsupported costs and subsequently reduced those sums by approximately half to $1,074,732 -- mostly consisting of remaining questionable costs. UCI contends that the reimbursement provision of per-horse, per-day allows it to retain all the funds paid by the BLM based on that rate and considers it legitimate "profit." However, BLM-Utah, in consultation with the DOI Solicitor's Office, maintains that the agreement was clear in that UCI should be reimbursed only for allowable costs and that Federal law does not permit a "profit." In April 2014, BLM-Utah issued UCI a letter advising it of this position and requesting repayment of $1,074,732.
In October 2012, a new Cooperative Agreement was entered into between BLM-Utah and UCI. Shortly after the beginning of the new agreement, UCI submitted a request for reimbursement of approximately $1 million in hay costs that appears to have been already reimbursed under the prior agreement. Following the issuance of the OIG report, UCI was placed on administrative review to be more closely monitored by the Grants Management Officer. During the close monitoring of UCI reimbursement requests, the apparent double payment of $1 million in hay costs was discovered.
To date, UCI appears to owe BLM-Utah approximately $2 million ($1.07 million from the prior agreement and $1 million from the current agreement).
Multiple contacts between BLM-Utah and UCI and the Governor's office occurred from October 2013 and August 2014, including letters, phone calls, e-mails, and face-to-face meetings.
Gunnison Transfer Updates