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BLM BALANCES QUALITY WITH COST

To the editor:

In response to your (Feb. 24) article about the Interior Department Inspector General's audit report on the Bureau of Land Management (BLM):Most departments and agencies in the federal government could do a better job of reducing administrative costs, and the BLM is no exception. In fact, since I became director of the BLM in 1989, I have made it a priority to improve the agency's efficiency.

For example, last year I initiated downsizing by bringing the agency closer to those receiving the on-site services.

I have also asked the BLM's state directors to review their organizations and to examine whether to downsize their operations. The aim of any field office reorganization would be to improve the quality of service that the BLM provides to public land users and visitors. Of course, the BLM would carefully review any proposed changes that might affect the economy of local communities. Also, any such changes would be gradually implemented.

As for the Inspector General's report, it must be kept in mind that the report focuses on the cost-saving benefits of reorganizations carried out in the 1980s by two BLM field offices - Alaska and Eastern States. While I am pleased with the results of those reorganizations, it's a mistake to assume that every BLM state office should be similarly restructured. They are not typical BLM operations.

What is important is that each state office be organized so it can efficiently and effectively serve public land users and visitors. In short, efficiency (not wasting time or money) and effectiveness (getting the job done) cannot be separated. For example, the Postal Service might be able to cut costs by consolidating all the small town and rural post offices. But while that might save money for the Postal Service, it sure would not serve the interests of consumers.

It should also be noted that the BLM's administrative costs are driven in part by legislative mandates imposed by Congress.

Cy Jamison

Bureau of Land Management

Washington, D.C.