UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20240
 
October 28, 2011
 
In Reply Refer To:
1541 (WO600) P
 
EMS TRANSMISSION 12/09/2011
Instruction Memorandum No. 2012-036
Expires: 09/30/2013
 
To:                        WO Assistant Directors and Division Chiefs, State Directors
                                                           
From:                    Assistant Director, Communications
 
Subject:                WO Controlled Correspondence
 
Program Area:  Correspondence
 
Purpose:  This Instruction Memorandum (IM) documents the process used within the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to ensure consistent, timely, and quality responses to controlled correspondence received by the Washington Office (WO). 
 
Definition: Controlled correspondence is correspondence that requires a record of receipt and a timely reply. WO controlled correspondence includes responses to mail addressed to the BLM Director or to “The BLM” that are determined by the BLM Senior Correspondence Management Analyst (WO 600) to rise to a level appropriate for inclusion in the controlled correspondence tracking system. Department of the Interior Executive Secretariat controlled correspondence includes all departmental and White House correspondence referred to the BLM and tracked by the Department’s Executive Secretariat. Controlled correspondence generally addresses policy issues but may include other topics appropriate for the Director’s response. Controlled correspondence includes congressional inquiries, as well as inquiries by state and local officials, organizations, and in some instances the public.
 
Note: Controlled correspondence does not include: congressional inquiries regarding field issues that are not programmatic or controversial; congressional questions for the record; legal documents; Freedom of Information Act requests; informational material; media requests; responses to inquires addressed to individual program offices; and letters originating within the Department or the BLM. 

Policy/Action: The Washington Office Correspondence Preparation Supplement, BLM Handbook H-1541-1, provides information on the preparation of correspondence, including formatting and timelines. Additionally, 382 DM 5 Secretarial Correspondence Handbook provides detailed instructions for the Secretarial correspondence process.

Deadlines 

Congressional correspondence, correspondence that is controlled for the Secretary’s signature, and other correspondence determined to require a similar level of control is assigned a due date of 10 working days after the date of control. It is important to note that the date of control is the first point at which the letter is received within the Department and tasked; therefore, for Executive Secretariat correspondence, the final, signed letter must be issued 10 working days following receipt by the Executive Secretariat. It is essential that documents move between the Department and the BLM, and within the BLM, with minimal delay to meet these deadlines.
 
If a delay beyond 20 working days is identified, an interim response must be forwarded within 5 days. Interim responses only acknowledge the receipt of the incoming letter; briefly state why the final response will be delayed; and identify approximately when the final response may be expected. No additional content requiring surname should be included in an interim response. Interim responses to Executive Secretariat and BLM controlled correspondence must be coordinated with the BLM Senior Correspondence Management Analyst. Interim congressional replies are signed by the Department’s Director, Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs (for Executive Secretariat controlled correspondence), or the Chief, BLM Division of Legislative Affairs (for WO controlled correspondence). Non-congressional interim replies are signed by the appropriate BLM Assistant Director (WO controlled correspondence) or Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management (ASLM) (Executive Secretariat controlled correspondence).
 
The Executive Secretariat or the BLM Senior Correspondence Management Analyst may assign deadlines beyond 10 days to some controlled correspondence. Typically this extended period will allow 15 working days, and in rare cases 20 working days. An example of a 20-day window for response would be a letter from a member of the public requiring detailed research into specific circumstances.
 
The attachment illustrates the process for managing WO controlled correspondence.
 
Roles and Responsibilities: Each BLM employee involved in any aspect of controlled correspondence preparation, review, and/or approval has certain roles and responsibilities. It is important that all involved have a clear understanding of what is expected of him/her during preparation and/or review of controlled correspondence.
 
BLM Senior Correspondence Management Analyst (WO 600)
 
The BLM Senior Correspondence Management Analyst is responsible for receiving, logging, tasking, and coordinating completion of all WO controlled correspondence. This individual provides advance copies and status reports on all WO controlled correspondence to members of the BLM management team, as requested. This is the primary point of contact for coordination of controlled correspondence within the BLM, as well as between the BLM and the Department and other agencies. The BLM Senior Correspondence Management Analyst is responsible for ensuring proper formatting; compliance with appropriate departmental guidance and correspondence manuals, style guides, and handbooks; grammar, spelling, and punctuation; as well as ensuring the reply is responsive to the incoming inquiry. This individual is also responsible for ensuring all edits and suggestions are considered, reconciled if necessary, and incorporated into the final product. Additionally, this individual maintains the official BLM record of controlled correspondence, including appropriate surname documentation and background material.
 
BLM Director’s Office
 
The BLM Director, Deputy Director(s), and Chief of Staff are ultimately responsible for the final content of controlled correspondence, providing BLM policy decisions and vision, and complying with BLM standards and departmental and administration policy.
 
The BLM Deputy Director(s) and Chief of Staff review and surname all WO controlled correspondence prepared for the Director’s signature, or controlled correspondence that requires review by senior officials within the Department, other bureaus or departments, the Office of the Inspector General, or the Congress. BLM Director-level review and/or signature is required for policy covering multiple BLM programs; involving significant workload; generating a high level of BLM, departmental, or congressional interest; or involving issues that are extremely visible or controversial in nature. 
 
BLM Assistant Directors’ Offices
 
The BLM Assistant Directors (ADs) and Deputy Assistant Directors are responsible for the content of correspondence within their area of responsibility and complying with BLM standards and policies.
 
BLM Divisions / Program Offices
 
The BLM Division Chiefs are responsible for the content of correspondence and complying with BLM standards and policy within their assigned areas. They must ensure content is accurate and addresses the subject so as to fully respond to an inquiry.
 
Author
 
The author is the person who prepares the initial draft correspondence document. In most cases, authors are Program or Staff Analysts. They work with their Division Chiefs as well as other affected parties to draft a document. Authors are accountable for the content of their work and should carefully source facts and other supporting information.  Authors are the first screen to ensure content is accurate and addresses the subject so as to fully respond to an inquiry.
 
Reviewer
 
A reviewer is someone whose input has been solicited by an approver prior to the approver’s surnaming of a document. They may be requested to review an entire document, or just the portion that applies to their area of expertise. The reviewer may be a Program Analyst at the Division level, an Executive Assistant at the AD’s Office, the Chief of Staff at the Director’s Office, or other individuals.
 
Approver
 
An approver is someone who reads and either accepts, rejects, or modifies a document during the surnaming process. The approver may be a Division Chief, Deputy Assistant Director, AD, Chief of Staff, Deputy Director, or the Director. The reviewer/approver role is determined by the content of the correspondence package. The same individual may serve different roles for different documents. 
 
Surnaming Process: The correspondence process at the BLM involves drafting of the document, then routing it for review, approval, and signature (see attachment). This review and approval process is called “surnaming.” 
 
The author and the BLM Senior Correspondence Management Analyst (WO 600) typically determine the initial routing for the surnaming process. Any potentially affected program areas must be reviewed by all applicable Division Chiefs and ADs. Additional referrals may be made as the document progresses through Division Chiefs, ADs, and the Director’s Office.
 
The following guidance aids in determining which surnames are required: 
  • BLM AD-600 – The BLM Assistant Director for Communications (AD-600) surnames all controlled correspondence.
  • BLM WO-620 –The BLM Division Chief for Legislative Affairs (WO-620) surnames all controlled correspondence addressed to Members of Congress. 
  • BLM AD-700 – The BLM Assistant Director for Human Capital Management (AD-700) surnames all controlled correspondence regarding personnel issues, administrative actions, employee conduct, complaints, and grievances, and occupational safety and health.
  • BLM AD-800 – The BLM Assistant Director for Business and Fiscal Resources (AD‑800) and the BLM Budget Officer (WO-880) surname all controlled correspondence regarding the budget process or appropriations.
  • BLM Director’s Office – The BLM Director’s Office (WO-100) surnames all controlled correspondence: 
o   Requiring the BLM Director’s signature;
o   Involving BLM policy issues;
o   Dealing with high profile or controversial issues; or
o   Involving senior officials in the Office of the Secretary, other bureaus or departments, the Office of the Inspector General, or Congress.  
  • SOL – The Office of the Solicitor (SOL) surnames all controlled correspondence: 
o   Regarding, expressing, or requiring a legal opinion or interpretation;
o   Concerning litigation; or
o   Requiring the Secretary’s signature. 
  • OCL – The Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs (OCL) surnames all controlled correspondence addressed to Members of Congress: 
o   Requiring senior Department officials final signature;
o   Requiring a bureau-level response on behalf of senior Department officials; or
o   Regarding controversial issues involving legislation or hearings. 
  • AS-PMB – The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget (AS-PMB) surnames all controlled correspondence regarding Department policy. 
  • POB – The Office of Budget (POB) surnames all controlled correspondence regarding appropriations. Additionally, AS-PMB may designate other correspondence for POB review, such as responses to appropriators on non-appropriation issues, depending on the content of the response. 
  • OEI – The Office of External and Intergovernmental Affairs (OEI) surnames all controlled correspondence regarding relationships with state and local governments at the Department level.  
  • AS-LM – The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management(AS-LM) surnames allcontrolled correspondence as tasked by the Executive Secretariat, AS-LM Chief of Staff, ADs, or the Director. 
  • OMB – The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) surnames all controlled correspondence regarding Administration position or policy.  
Timeframe:  The policies outlined in this IM shall be effective immediately.
 
Impact on Budget:  None.
 
Background:  This IM provides documentation of the WO controlled correspondence process.
 
Manual/Handbook Affected:  None. 

Coordination: WO-620, WO-600, WO-700, WO-800, WO-100. 

Contact:  If you have any questions regarding the above procedures, please contact Deb Lyons, WO-600 Office of Correspondence, International, and Advisory Committees, (202) 208-7301; or Celia Boddington, Assistant Director, Communications, (202) 208-6913.
 
 
Signed by:                                                                    Authenticated by:
Celia Boddington                                                          Robert M. Williams
Assistant Director                                                         Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
Communications
 
  
1 Attachment