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April 27, 2012
In Reply Refer To:
1610 (210) P
Instruction Memorandum No. 2012-115
Expires:  09/30/2013
To:                   Washington Office and Field Office Officials
From:               Assistant Director, Renewable Resources and Planning
Subject:           Release of A Desk Guide to Cooperating Agency Relationships and Coordination with Intergovernmental Partners
Program Areas:  Land Use Planning, National Environmental Policy Act
Purpose: This Instruction Memorandum (IM) provides notification of the release of A Desk Guide to Cooperating Agency Relationships and Coordination with Intergovernmental Partners.
Policy/Action:  Bureau of Land Management (BLM) managers and staff at State Offices, District Offices, Field Offices, Centers, and the Washington Office shall refer to and utilize the Desk Guide to Cooperating Agency Relationships and Coordination with Intergovernmental Partners (see Attachment 1) as a source of policy and guidance in implementing cooperating agency relationships and in coordinating a variety of activities on an ongoing basis. The Desk Guide is a reference for establishing and fostering meaningful and productive relationships with other Federal agencies and state, local, and tribal governments in land use planning and National Environmental Policy Act processes.  

Each State Office has received copies of the Desk Guide to distribute to its District and Field Office personnel. State Offices will also be responsible for distributing copies of the Desk Guide to intergovernmental partners in your state (municipalities, counties, conservation districts, state agencies, other Federal contacts, etc., generally providing two Desk Guides per entity). The Desk Guide should be accompanied by a letter from the Director (Attachment 2 for state and local governments, and Attachment 3 for tribal governments) expressing the BLM’s hope that the Desk Guide establishes a greater understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the BLM and intergovernmental partners in the cooperating agency relationship and in coordination efforts. 

State Offices should also provide copies to members of the public upon request. When possible, government partners should receive the Desk Guide directly from the BLM Field Manager in their area.  

When additional copies of the Desk Guide are needed, BLM State Offices and Centers will send a request by email to the contacts listed below and a shipment will be arranged. An electronic copy of the Desk Guide is available at the BLM’s cooperating agency web site: www.blm.gov/planning/cadg.
Timeframe: Effective immediately. 
Budget Impact: None.
Background: A Desk Guide to Cooperating Agency Relationships and Coordination with Intergovernmental Partners is the successor to the Desk Guide to Cooperating Agency Relationships first issued in 2005.  The Guide articulates the BLM’s policy and guidance regarding how we work with other Federal agencies and state, local, and tribal government entities as cooperating agencies in preparing plans and environmental impact statements (EISs), and the role coordination plays in our formal plans and daily operations.  In 2005, the BLM pioneered a more proactive and inclusive approach to other units of government through the cooperating agency relationship in revising resource management plans. This policy, reflected in changes to the BLM’s planning regulations (43 CFR 1600 et seq.), was subsequently applied by the Department of the Interior (DOI) to all EISs prepared by its agencies.
New Material in this Revision: The second edition reflects the expanded scope of the cooperating agency policy implemented by the Department, includes lessons learned since the first edition was issued, responds to suggestions from State and Field Offices for additional content, and clarifies how cooperating agency status differs from efforts to improve coordination. While changes have been made throughout the document, the most substantial are these: 
  • Title:  The Desk Guide’s new name reflects the BLM’s commitment to working with intergovernmental partners, not only as cooperating agencies but also when coordinating on a variety of activities on an ongoing basis.
  • Section 2 (inviting participation):  Provides additional information on DOI requirements when a cooperating agency invitation or request for such status is refused.
  • Section 2 (plan implementation):  Incorporates additional information on project-level EISs and environmental assessments.
  • Section 3 (Memoranda of Understanding [MOUs]):  Provides updates to ensure consistency with the new model Cooperating Agency MOU issued under IB 2009-106.
  • Section 4 (criteria for eligibility): Explains that claimed expertise must be demonstrated and relevant to the decisions under consideration.
  • Section 4 (informal alternatives):  New section.
  • Section 4 (coordination and consistency):  Clarifies the BLM's responsibilities under the consistency requirement of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA), and coordination under FLPMA as well as through the cooperating agency relationship.
  • Section 4 (Federal Advisory Committee Act compliance):  Revises the content regarding the role of contractors in representing cooperating agencies. 
Coordination: The Desk Guide has been prepared jointly by the Division of Decision Support, Planning, and NEPA (WO-210) and the Directorate of Communications (WO-600).  Distribution of the Desk Guide has been coordinated with the National Operations Center.
Contact:  Questions regarding this Desk Guide may be directed toJoe Stout, Planning Branch Chief, Division of Decision Support, Planning, and NEPA (WO-210), 202-912-7275; Matthew Higdon, Planning and Environmental Analyst, 202-912-7282; and Cynthia Moses-Nedd, BLM Liaison to State and Local Government, 202-912-7446.
Signed by:                                                                   Authenticated by:
Edwin L. Roberson                                                      Robert M. Williams
Assistant Director                                                        Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
Renewable Resources and Planning
3 Attachments

Last updated: 05-09-2012