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United States Department of the Interior
Montana State Office
5001 Southgate Drive
Billings, Montana 59101-4669

 July 31, 2009

9230 (MT9240.2) P
Instruction Memorandum  No. MT-2009-058
Expires: 09/30/2010
To:        Field Managers
             Attention:  Outdoor Recreation Planners                
From:    State Director
Subject: Evaluation of Montana/Dakotas’ Recreation Fee Program
DDs: 08/28/09, 09/04/09, 10/05/09    
Program Area: Recreation Fee Program.
Purpose: The purpose of this IM is to provide information regarding an upcoming evaluation of the Montana/Dakotas’ recreation fee program and to identify the due dates for completion of evaluation requirements.  The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (REA), Section 9, requires the evaluation of the recreation fee program and reporting to Congress. To ensure that the intent of the REA is being administered properly, the BLM is conducting an independent evaluation of its recreation fee program implementation on a state-by-state basis.  The 2009 AWP slated that the Montana/Dakotas and Oregon/Washington state offices would be evaluated this fiscal year.  The planned evaluation is necessary for several reasons. It is in the Bureau’s best interest to evaluate the management of these resources and the interaction with the public it serves. Such evaluations should lead to discovering and promulgating best practices for other recreation sites and new fee sites and for development and communication of improvement recommendations within each project or set of sites evaluated.
Policy/Action: The Recreation and Visitor Services Division, WO-250, will mail the pre-site survey/On-Site Evaluation Guide and On-Line Fee Program Evaluation Survey to all field offices via a contracted third party by August 17. The State Outdoor Recreation Planner will conduct a conference call on August 26, 2009, at 8:30 a.m., with Anthony Bobo, WO-250, to assist field offices with completing these required pre-survey evaluation documents and answer questions regarding the physical evaluation. All completed pre-survey and evaluation forms must be sent to WO-250 by August 28 and September 4, 2009. Field offices will be selected for review based upon analysis of the pre-survey information and evaluation forms. The dates to conduct the physical site inspections for the Montana/Dakotas will be the week of October 5-9, 2009. Field offices should plan for a dedicated recreation staff member to assist in the physical site inspection during the first week in October.
Timeframe: Field offices should receive their recreation pre-site survey/On-Site Evaluation Guide, fee survey and evaluation forms by August 17, 2009. They will provide these completed forms to Anthony Bobo, WO-250, no later than August 28 and September 4, 2009. It is highly recommended that you start work on gathering the required documents as soon as possible. The On-Line Fee Program Evaluation Survey will arrive August 31, and must be completed by September 4, 2009. Project Fee Sites (field offices) chosen to be physically evaluated/reviewed based on the pre -site survey information, documents, the On-Line Fee Program Evaluation Survey, and evaluation analysis will start as early as October 5, and continue until October 9, 2009.  The final fee site report for each site will be worked on during the days of the physical site review.
Budget Impact: The impact to the current Montana/Dakotas’ budget will be minimal since the funds were taken “off the top” at the WO from the 1220 program.
Background: These fee programs have significant Congressional interest and the fee collections for the entire Department of the Interior now amount to over $1.5 billion since 1996.  As such, the program has significant fiduciary responsibility for management and control of public funds. The integrity and management of the processes for managing these funds should be regularly evaluated.  Since 2002, six separate external evaluations (OIG, GAO, and OMB) of BLM’s recreation fee program were conducted.  In response to these evaluations of BLM’s recreation fee program, the BLM re-initiated state-by-state independent evaluations of its recreation fee program in FY 2007.  The BLM’s 2009 AWP for the 1220 program directs that the Montana/Dakotas’ fee program be evaluated. The evaluation process is intended as a means to collect and apply “lessons learned” from our experience with collecting fees.  Further, the evaluation process will help to monitor and improve the appropriate use of revenues collected on priority maintenance and enhancement projects. The first step of this process is to have the field offices complete a pre-site survey/On-Site Evaluation Guide regarding their fee projects, gather the necessary documents, and send electronically to the WO-250 by August 28.  Approximately 8 to 12 hours will be the estimated time for completing the pre-site survey and gathering the documents per fee project (recreation use permit (RUP) and special recreation permit (SRP) fee projects). The second step of the process is to complete the On-Line Fee Program Evaluation Survey by September 4, which will take about 4 hours to complete.  The third step of the process is an actual site inspection on October 5-9, 2009, of a few selected fee sites, based upon analysis from the pre-survey information and evaluation forms.
The WO-250 contractor or the State Office Outdoor Recreation Lead will be notifying selected field offices, after analysis of the survey and evaluation, as to which field offices will conduct inspections of the selected fee areas. A few days are required for selected field office staff to assist the contractor, Anthony Bobo, and Chris Miller during physical on-site inspections held October 5-9, 2009. The 2008 California Evaluation, which the Montana/Dakotas’ evaluation will be based on, can be viewed at the share drive N:\SORecreation\Audits.
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected: None.
Coordination: Field offices were informed about this audit in the AWP, and this topic was discussed at the annual Recreation Workshop in March of this year. This topic was also discussed on several of the recreation/travel/wilderness monthly conference calls between the state office and the field offices.
Contact: If you have questions or concerns regarding this IM, contact Chris Miller at (406) 896-5038.
Signed by:                                                                   Authenticated by:
Howard A. Lemm (for)                                                 Kathy Iszler
Gene R. Terland                                                          Staff Assistant (MT9240)      
1 Attachment

Last updated: 02-28-2013