BLM's Directives System

The BLM Directives System is comprised of both temporary and permanent directives. Temporary directives include Instruction Memorandums (IMs) and Information Bulletins (IBs) which are in effect for a short specific time only. Permanent directives are included in the BLM Manual System and consist of Manuals which provide program instructions. These instructions are in effect until the Manual is revised or removed from the BLM Manual System. Directives remain in effect until they are superseded, canceled, or expire.

The Bureau's Subject Code System

The Bureau's Paperwork Management System uniformly identifies all records or documents, regardless of physical form or characteristic, based on a logical numeric coding system. To the maximum extent practicable, the BLM Manuals, Handbooks, IMs, and IBs maintain subject code numbering patterns consistent with 43 CFR. Subject codes are grouped into 9 primary subject areas with one-thousand level codes (1000 through 9000). Related subsidiary subjects and corresponding codes fall under each of these 9 major subject areas. The subjects are codified by a series of numbers, generally with a four-digit number to the left of the decimal and subsidiary numbers and letters to the right of the decimal. The Bureau's listing of Subject Codes is available on-line.

Manual Releases

The BLM Manual System is a permanent record of written policy and procedural instruction for BLM employees. It contains material having continuing application to BLM programs. Instructions in BLM Manuals are mandatory unless the text states otherwise. The Manual System is arranged by numbered Manuals, as outlined in the BLM Subject Code Index (Manual Section l22O, Appendix 3). BLM Manuals consist of the Manual Section, Manual Section Supplements, Handbooks, and Handbook Supplements. The Manual Section and Handbooks must not conflict; they combine to form a complete set of instructions.


Handbooks may be used to provide detailed instructions necessary to carry out policy and direction described in the Manual Section. Officials may elect to write Handbooks to transmit a particular set of detailed technical or procedural instructions. Criteria which may be used to judge whether Handbooks are appropriate are located in Handbook 1221-1, Chapter III, Paragraph B2. Both the Manual Section and the Handbooks have equal force and effect. The Manual Section and the Handbooks are structured systems, tied together by subject code. A Handbook cannot be released without a Manual Section in effect. The primary audience is specialists, technicians, and clerks.

Instruction Memorandums

Instruction Memorandums (IMs) provide new policy or procedural instructions which must reach BLM employees quickly or interpret existing regulations, policies, or instructions and are used when there is not enough time to issue a Manual Release. IMs are generally used for transmitting material of an urgent nature. The numbering system for IMs includes the Fiscal Year (FY) and the IM number (starting with 001 for the first IM issued at the beginning of a FY, e.g. IM 97-001). In most cases, IMs expire on September 30 of each year. They remain in effect for a minimum of 12 months, but cannot exceed 24 months. (For example, an IM issued on October 1, 1996, may have an expiration date of 09/30/98 to allow time to include the topic or procedure in the appropriate Manual Section if the direction is of a permanent nature.) IMs may be extended by program officials for an additional 12 months. Instructions contained in an IM may not be extended after it has been in effect for the maximum 24 months and extended for the maximum 12. These instructions must be reissued as a new IM or as a Manual Release. IMs which interpret existing regulations, policies, or instructions or which provide new policies or procedures must include in the text that it affects an existing Manual Section or that a new Manual Section will be released.

Information Bulletins

Information Bulletins are used to disseminate information of interest to Bureau employees. They do not contain BLM policy, directive, or instructional material. They may be used to transmit material such as publications and announcements or call attention to existing policies or procedures. Any information of a sensitive or privacy nature should be transmitted using the IB process. IBs may require action by, or response from, Bureau officials for actions such as confirming attendance at meetings, requesting review and comment to draft documents, or requesting reporting information. For this reason, they may have a due date (DD). The numbering system for IBs includes the FY and the IB number (starting with 001 for the first IB issued at the beginning of a FY, e.g. IB 97-001). IBs are not assigned an expiration date and are kept only as long as they are needed by individual program officials. IBs are considered internal documents and may be released to the public in response to a FOIA request, if a FOIA exemption does not apply. Therefore, IBs should be filed separately from IMs. Program offices are responsible for retaining and disposing of responses received from IBs when comments become an overall record on how a policy was developed (see .41A).