WASHINGTON— As part of the Republican effort to reduce wasteful and redundant budgetary spending, Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT) has introduced an amendment that would prevent taxpayer funds within the Continuing Resolution from being used to fund the duplicative National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS).
The NLCS was first established by executive fiat under Department of Interior (DOI) Secretary Bruce Babbitt in 2000 as an additional layer of bureaucracy within the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The NLCS was later granted statutory authority under the controversial Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009.
“The NLCS has created an unnecessary, costly, and confusing two-tiered system within the BLM that clouds the BLM’s historic mission. I have yet to see a compelling example of how our nation benefits from adding another expensive layer of bureaucracy to the management of our public lands. Millions of dollars are wasted each year at the NLCS to fund a superfluous and unnecessary bureaucracy. Cutting spending is never easy but if we are to make long-term systemic changes we must identify redundancies and turn those wasted dollars into savings for the taxpayer,” said Congressman Bishop.
In 2008, Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT) obtained documents that led the DOI Office of Inspector General (OIG) to launch an investigation examining the activities of NLCS employees suspected to be violating anti-lobbying laws and engaging in inappropriate relationships with outside special interest groups. In correspondence with BLM Director Bob Abbey, acting inspector general Mary Kendall said, “Our investigation determined that numerous activities and communication took place between NLCS officials and nongovernmental organizations (NGO), including discussions about the NLCS budget and BLM editing brochures and producing fact sheets for a specific NGO. We also uncovered a general disregard for establishing and maintaining boundaries among the various entities.” *The OIG noted that a NLCS staff member asked a representative of the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) to influence legislation before Congress involving the protection of some areas in New Mexico. Federal law bars federal employees from trying to shape legislation.
“Not only does the NLCS waste taxpayer funds, it also has a track record of ethical wrongdoing. An IG report has found that the NLCS regularly engaged in unacceptable and improper collaboration between government employees and influential environmental groups. This is unacceptable and further emphasizes that we would be better off saving these tax dollars than giving them to the NLCS to fund their efforts to fulfill the agendas of radical special interest groups,” Bishop added.