Wild Horse and Burro Gathers: Internal and External Communicating and Reporting

IM 2013-061
Instruction Memorandum


January 23, 2013

In Reply Refer To:
4710 (260) P

Instruction Memorandum No. 2013-061
Expires: 09/30/2014

To:                   All Field Office Officials (except Alaska)

From:               Assistant Director, Renewable Resources and Planning

Subject:           Wild Horse and Burro Gathers: Internal and External Communicating and Reporting

Program Area:  Wild Horse and Burro (WH&B) Program

Purpose:  As part of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) responsibility to provide concise, accurate and timely information about ongoing gathers within the agency, the public, the Department of the Interior and Congress, gather reports must be consistent, accurate and timely.  This Instruction Memorandum (IM) establishes protocols for internally communicating and reporting gather information during the course of all ongoing WH&B gathers.

Policy/Action: Effective immediately, all State, District, and Field offices must comply with the new policy of this IM for all gathers within their jurisdiction.  This policy establishes protocols for internally communicating and reporting gather information during the course of all ongoing WH&B gathers.

This IM is part of a package of IMs covering aspects of managing WH&B gathers:

  • IM No. 2013-060, Wild Horse and Burro Gathers: Management by Incident Command System
  • IM No. 2013-058, Wild Horse and Burro Gathers: Public and Media Management
  • IM No. 2013-059, Wild Horse and Burro Gathers: Comprehensive Animal Welfare Policy

Roles and responsibilities of all gather personnel are covered in IM No. 2013-060, Wild Horse and Burro Gathers: Management by Incident Command System.

Gather-Related Information Sharing Within BLM

Daily Gather Overview

To assist BLM State, District, and Field offices in communicating essential information, a Daily Gather Overview (Attachment 1) will provide gather information each day that gather activity occurs. The Lead Contracting Officer’s Representative (Lead COR) is responsible for providing accurate information necessary to complete the Overview in a timely manner. The Incident Commander (IC) or his/her designee is responsible for the completion and dissemination of the Overview. Transmission will be by e-mail, copied and pasted into the body of said e-mail, each day after gather activities have concluded, usually by 10:00 PM Eastern Time.  This may require the participation of a designated off-site official with access to e-mail.

Receiving Report

To provide feedback internally that animals shipped from a gather were received by a short-term facility and to notate the condition of the animals, a Receiving Report will be sent from the receiving facility each day that animals are transported and received. The facility manager is responsible for the completion and dissemination of the report. The report shall be in the form of an email and consist of the following information for each shipment received:  facility name, date, number, gender, current condition, and any incidents or issues pertaining to that shipment. The IC is responsible for coordinating with the facility manager to ensure that the report is disseminated each day that animals are shipped and received.

BLM Recipients of the Daily Gather Overview and Receiving Report (above)

Overviews and Receiving Reports shall be sent to the Director, the Deputy Director for Operations, Chief of Staff, the Assistant Directors and Deputy Assistant Directors for WO-200 and WO-600, Division Chiefs for WO-260, WO-610 and WO-620, Deputy Division Chief for WO-260, the appropriate State Director(s), the appropriate External Affairs Chief(s), the National WH&B Information Center (Information Center), the National WH&B Outreach Coordinator, the State  Lead and the on-site Core Gather Team (CGT).  The on-site CGT consists of four individuals: the IC, Lead COR, Lead Public Affairs Officer (Lead PAO), and Lead Law Enforcement Officer (Lead LEO). Additional recipients for these reports may be added by the IC. The Final Gather Data Report (below) is available to the above recipients on request.

Final Gather Data Report

Within three days of the completion of a gather, the Lead COR is responsible for preparing the Final Gather Data Report (Attachment 2), the purpose of which is to assemble gather data for entry into the Wild Horse and Burro Program System (WHBPS).  The WHBPS tracks information on all animals removed, treated, gelded, and/or released as part of a gather operation, including a mortality log. The Lead COR or Local WH&B Specialist will complete the Final Gather Data Report within three days upon completion of gather.  The Lead COR will also provide the Final Gather Data Report to WO-260 and input all gather data into the WHBPS within three weeks of completing the gather. The Final Gather Data Report shall also be sent to the Lead PAO to post final gather information to the website.

Early Alerts

The IC in consultation with the CGT will evaluate any potentially controversial event that occurs (e.g., unanticipated or unusual animal death, law enforcement incident, accident, etc.) to determine an appropriate response. If an Early Alert is warranted, it is disseminated by the IC or Lead PAO to WO-610, through the External Affairs Chief(s). WO-610 distributes Early Alerts internally as per WO-600 direction. A description of the event will also be included in the Overview.

After Action Reviews

An After Action Review (AAR) is a learning tool intended for evaluation of a gather to improve future performance by sustaining strengths and correcting weaknesses in technical operations and communications. Sharing the lessons learned and innovative solutions to evolving gather situations with other WH&B personnel contributes to improved best practices and standard operating procedures on a national level. The AAR should not be utilized as an investigative tool.  An AAR will be conducted by the IC as soon as possible after operations are completed and include as many gather personnel as possible, at a minimum the CGT. The AAR will be structured such that all participants have the opportunity to openly and honestly discuss what transpired, in sufficient detail and clarity. The AAR should be distributed to the AR/AO, appropriate State Director(s) and Associate State Director(s), WH&B State Lead, WH&B Division Chief, and CGT within three weeks of the conclusion of the gather.

Transparency: Gather-Related Information Shared With the Public via Internet

The Overview is the official record internal to BLM for daily events and serves as the foundation for the dissemination of information to be publicly shared via state website and other agency-approved social media outlets.  The Lead PAO compiles information from the Overview to be posted publicly and ensures its accuracy. Each gather will have an individual responsible for uploading gather information, photographs, and video clips. Updating the website is a critical element of BLM transparency. The webpage shall be updated no later than 2:00 PM Eastern Time on the day following the date of the most recent Daily Gather Overview, including weekend days. All state webpages must adhere to template found on the BLM intranet.  Each gather must have its own set of webpages.  Any deviations from this template must be approved by the Division Chief, WO-610.

States may use all available social media platforms, consistent with National social media policy, to provide gather-related updates and information.  All gathers must use the national WH&B Twitter account (http://twitter.com/BLMWHB) to provide updates during the gathers.  State BLM Twitter accounts should also be utilized, if available.   Access to this account, as well as a unique hashtag for each gather, will be provided by the New Media Lead, WO-600 to the State External Affairs Chief immediately preceding operations of the gather.

Animal Health, Veterinary Examination, Necropsy, and APHIS Daily Activity Reports

A report routinely prepared by the Lead COR describing the normal condition of animals during a gather should be called an “Animal Health Report” or a “Report of Animal Condition.”  On-site veterinarians may be asked to advise the Lead COR when these reports are prepared, but these routine “all is well” type reports should not be requested from the on-site veterinarians.  The term “Veterinary Report” should be limited to reports prepared by the examining veterinarian.  In the event of an unusual animal health or condition problem, an animal health, or welfare incident or an unusual animal death, an APHIS or other veterinarian may be asked to examine an animal or perform a necropsy.

Following these exams, a report suitable for sharing publicly on the internet should be requested from the examining veterinarian and provided by him/her in a timely manner. These reports, called a “Veterinary Examination Report” or a “Necropsy Report,” will be intended for the public record and should be reviewed by the Lead COR and national APHIS/BLM Staff Veterinarian whenever possible prior to their release.

The daily APHIS “Specific Activity Report” is an administrative document for APHIS use.  It will be made available to the Lead COR following the conclusion of a gather, but will not generally be routinely released on the internet during or following a gather. 

Monitoring Public Response during Gathers

The Information Center is responsible for ensuring that the social media and internet sites are continually monitored and that appropriate information from public/media sites is conveyed back to the Lead PAO who will then inform the rest of the CGT in a timely manner.  The Lead PAO also ensures that the Information Center is aware of any gather-related public/media issues that may arise.  This will allow the CGT the option to address concerns and clarify key points as appropriate.  It will also serve as a feedback mechanism to the IC.

Timeframe:  This IM is effective immediately.

Budget Impact:  Unit costs for conducting gathers for removals and population growth suppression efforts have increased as a result of the increased staffing necessary for internal and external reporting associated with increased transparency.

Background:  Some BLM WH&B gather operations are high-profile events that receive a significant level of internal and external attention.  The 24-hour news cycle of internet and satellite communications have made it possible for mass information sharing about the BLM’s WH&B Program.  In addition, press/media, congressional, and public attention on recent gathers have compelled the BLM to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information.  Given this attention, it is critically important that the BLM operate in as open and transparent manner as possible.  Furthermore, providing gather information to key BLM officials, as outlined in this IM, will significantly improve the BLM’s situational awareness and its ability to make good decisions, address controversial events and accurately respond to congressional, press/media, and public inquiries.  

Manual/Handbook Sections Affected: None.

Coordination:  This IM was coordinated among WO-200, WO-260, WO-600, WO-610, WO-LE, WH&B State Leads, WH&B Specialists, State External Affairs Leads, public affairs, and law enforcement staff in the field.

Contact:  Any questions regarding this IM can be directed to Joan Guilfoyle, Division Chief, WH&B Program (WO-260) at 202-912-7260 or Jeff Krauss, Division Chief, Public Affairs (WO-610) at 202-912-7410.


Signed by:                                                                   Authenticated by:

Edwin L. Roberson                                                     Robert M. Williams
Assistant Director                                                       Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
Renewable Resources and Planning

2 Attachments

1:  Daily Gather Overview Format (1 p)

2:  Final Gather Data Report Format (2 pp)