October 27, 2003

To: All BLM Employees

From: Director /signed/ (Kathleen Clarke )

Recently I spoke to the Public Lands Committee of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission meeting in Reno, Nevada. The headlines in the various newspapers in the West that carried the story varied, but most were along the lines of “BLM Chief Chides Agency’s Bureaucrats” and “BLM Head Demands More Accountability.”

I feel that I owe you an explanation and an apology.

In my prepared comments to the group, I lauded the professionalism and dedication of the BLM workforce, and outlined the steps we have taken and are taking to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our oil and gas programs. I touted the fact that one third of this nation’s consumed energy comes from the public lands and that the BLM is prepared to meet the challenge of working in partnership with industry to meet the energy needs of our nation while protecting the environment.

After my prepared comments, I was asked to respond to a report that had been distributed to the audience which criticized BLM’s management of “Applications for Permits to Drill.” I attempted to provide some perspective about where we’ve been and where we are going -- not only with APD’s, but in all of our field programs -- as we strive to become more consistent and efficient. I noted that during the last administration there was an apparent lack of leadership attention and support for BLM’s oil and gas development program. BLM abandoned the oil and gas quality assurance reviews, General Management Reviews, and technical procedures reviews. I opined that this resulted in diminished capacity, consistency and quality in our oil and gas programs, and that we needed to restore some controls and support for these programs.

I am deeply sorry that my comments were interpreted and reported as a criticism of BLM employees, something both unintended and undeserved. I apologize for any embarrassment you and your families may have experienced because of things I said.

The fact is that BLM employees are the strength and substance of our proud agency. I know that well, and I consider it a privilege to work with such capable and dedicated professionals, individuals who are committed to efficiency, effectiveness, and excellence in every facet of our work. BLM has an extraordinarily complex and demanding mission to fulfill – one that affects the quality of life of every American. I pledge to each of you my best efforts to provide the leadership, support and resources necessary for you to perform your duties and be successful.

Thank you for all you do.