Department Of Interior
|Office of the Secretary||
Contact: Joan Moody
|For Immediate Release: November 12, 2003||
Norton Finalizes Real Estate Appraisal Reform
WASHINGTON - Secretary of the Interior Gale A. Norton today announced that real estate appraisal functions previously performed by various agencies within the Department of the Interior have been consolidated in a new departmental office. The Office of Appraisal Services, housed within the department's National Business Center, will administer the various appraisal services required by Interior's programs. Brian Holly, Chief Appraiser for the U. S. Department of Justice, has agreed to serve as Acting Chief Appraiser for the department and head the office.
"The creation of the Office
of Appraisal Services enhances our ability to provide unbiased appraisals
consistent with the public interest," Norton said. "This new
organization has been carefully structured to ensure appraiser independence,
make certain that appraisals meet recognized professional standards, and
advance conservation goals."
On June 19, 2003, Norton
announced her intent to consolidate appraisal functions in response
to long-standing concerns about the management of appraisal functions
as documented over decades in reports issued by Interior's Inspector
General, the General Accounting Office and, more recently, by the Appraisal
Foundation and an interagency team under the auspices of Interior's
Bureau of Land Management. Subsequently, the department convened a team
of career professionals from various Interior agencies and the Department
of Justice, including appraisers and realty specialists, to develop
a plan outlining the structure and operations of the new office. Interior's
proposal was approved by Congress when it recently passed the Fiscal
Year 2004 appropriations act for the department.
"I appreciate the work
of those who helped us achieve this fundamental reform, especially the
committed professionals on our interagency team," Norton said.
The most visible change to
the appraisal function is that appraisers will now only report to other
appraisers, thus ensuring they have the independence to produce unbiased
valuations. While headquarters for the Office of Appraisal Services
will be located in Washington, D.C., appraisers will remain in regional
and field offices. The Office of Appraisal Services will have regional
centers in Denver, Portland, Sacramento, Phoenix, Minneapolis, the DC
Metro Area and Atlanta. Appraisers in field offices will report to supervisors
in these regional offices.
Today's action does not pertain to appraisal functions in the Office of Special Trustee for American Indians (OST). The department has been consulting with Indian Country on the potential inclusion of OST appraisers in the Office of Appraisal Services, and it has not reached a decision on the issue.
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