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U.S. Department of the Interior - Office of Wildland Fire
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Frequently Asked Questions



Why is the Department of the Interior doing an assessment of the wildland fire management program?

In the House of Representatives, Committee on Appropriations report on the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriation Bill, 2012, the Committee indicated an awareness of the duplication that exists in the Department's wildland fire programs at the national, state, regional and local levels. As a result, they directed "the Department to complete an assessment of these Wildland Fire programs in order to determine the most cost effective and efficient means of providing comprehensive fire management services in support of Departmental and bureau missions, and to better direct scarce resources from duplicative administrative management organizations to focus resources on protection of lives, property and natural and cultural resources."

At a time when the Federal government borrows over 40 cents for each dollar that it spends, each Department has a responsibility to take immediate action to do their part in putting our nation's fiscal house in order. It is our obligation as public servants to identify ways to reduce Federal spending, balance the budget, and create jobs to put our economy on a sustainable, healthy course for the future. The Department of the Interior and its bureaus are committed to managing for optimal efficiencies and effectiveness of all departmental programs.

Will all levels of the Department's wildland fire management program be reviewed or just the field level program?

The Interior Fire Program Assessment 2012 (the Assessment) will encompass the Department's entire wildland fire management program including the Office of the Secretary, Office of Wildland Fire (OWF) and the four bureaus with wildland fire management responsibilities—the Bureau of Land Management (BLM); Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA); National Park Service (NPS); and Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS). The review will also include the fire science and research activities of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and potential role of the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR). The review will not be limited to wildfire protection activities but will encompass all wildland fire management activities including business practices, administrative functions, training, etc.

Who is doing the assessment?

The Interior Fire Program Assessment 2012 contract was awarded to PricewaterhouseCoopers who will conduct the assessment with the Department through a series of site visits, interviews, and by understanding and considering other ongoing studies such as Wildland Fire Information and Technology study (Fire IT) and the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy (Cohesive Strategy) process that is currently underway.  The Assessment Team will work with Interior staff on the Assessment.

When will the Interior Fire Program Assessment project begin?

The period of performance for the contract is April 9, 2012, through October 17, 2012, with an optional task that would last until April 2013. The project began with a kick-off meeting in Washington, D.C., on April 11, 2012.

Will this be a review of just the wildfire protection/operations program? If not, what is the scope of the review?

This is not just an assessment of the Department's wildfire protection/operations program. The Department's wildfire protection/operations program is only one component of the assessment.

The review will encompass the entire wildland fire management program and will include the OWF, BLM, BIA, FWS, and NPS. The assessment will result in the development of a set of options for the most cost-effective, efficient means of providing a comprehensive suite of wildland fire management services to support Department and bureau missions. Consideration will also be given to possible alternatives to streamline the wildland fire governance structure from the Wildland Fire Leadership Council (WFLC) through the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG).

The purpose of this study is to provide the Department and its bureaus and offices with an assessment of the overall wildland fire program in order to determine the most cost effective, efficient means of providing comprehensive fire management services in support of our diverse missions and to better direct scarce resources where they are needed the most.  

What tasks will be included in the assessment conducted by the Assessment Team?

  • Task 1: Identify Opportunities for Improvement
  • Task 2: Develop Recommendations
  • Task 3: Develop an Implementation Plan

Will the USDA Forest Service's fire and aviation program be reviewed as well?

The project is specifically focused on the programs and organizations within the Department of the Interior. However, as the work of the Department's wildland fire program is so closely tied with the Forest Service wildland fire program, we expect that some aspects of the Forest Service program will be examined to better understand the opportunities within Interior and how those opportunities could potentially affect our work with the Forest Service. 

Will our other federal, state, local, and tribal wildland fire management partners be consulted during the review?

The Forest Service is represented on both the Steering Committee and the Project Team. U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) are also represented on the Project Working Team. It is expected that a sampling of our wildland fire management partners and stakeholders will be consulted. 

What does the Project Management Organization look like?

The Project Management Organization (PMO) is comprised of a Project Leader, Contracting Officers, Contracting Officer's Representatives, Steering Committee, Executive Advisory Group, and a Project Working Team.

What are the responsibilities of each of these sub-groups of the PMO?

The Project Leader is the primary liaison with the contractor; supports/leads the Steering Committee and Executive Advisory Group; has ultimate responsibility for communications and outreach; and will interface with the Project Working Team lead.

The Contracting Officer's Representatives will monitor and oversee contract performance; communicate with the contractor; and approve payment of invoices.

The Steering Committee is responsible for strategic direction; identifying issues and questions; monitoring and providing project oversight; reviewing deliverables; evaluating alternatives; and accepting deliverables.

The Executive Advisory Group provides advice on direction and scope; monitors and provides oversight; reviews deliverables; facilitates acquisition of resources; and communicates with home organizations.

The Project Working Team will facilitate identification and gathering of information; provide technical expertise, review and comment on deliverables, facilitate communication and outreach within their respective organizations; identify issues for study; and advise the Project Leader, Steering Committee, and Executive Advisory Group regarding study issues and deliverables.

Who represents the Steering Committee, Project Working Team, and Executive Advisory Group?

Members of the Steering Committee are Deputy Assistant Secretary Kim Thorsen; Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget, Finance, Performance and Acquisition Pam Haze; Senior Advisor Jim Douglas; Director of Management Initiatives and Transformation Mary Pletcher; and Forest Service Assistant Director Planning and Budget Ronald Bertsch. Ex Officio members include Working Team Lead Vince Mazzier; Communications Advisor Christie Wiley; Contracting Officer Representatives Russ Berry and Jackie Corona; and Contracting Officers Anita Tolliver and Sarah Dolen.

Members of the Executive Advisory Group include Tim Murphy, BLM; Steve Shackelton and Louis Rowe, NPS; Jeff Rupert, FWS; Bryan Rice, BIA; Kirk Rowdabaugh and Roy Johnson, OWF; Mark Bathrick, OAS; Ron Bertsch, Forest Service; and Anne Kinsinger, USGS. 

Members of the Project Team include Project Leader Jim Douglas; Working Team Lead Vince Mazzier, OWF; BLM Representative Grant Beebe; NPS Representative Tom Nichols; FSW Fred Wetzel; BIA Representative Dave Koch; OAS Stew Walker; BOR Representative Greek Taylor; and USGS Representatives Martha Garcia and Matt Rollins.

What is the expected outcome of the Interior Fire Program Assessment Project 2012?

The expectations of the Interior Fire Program Assessment 2012 project include:

  • affirmation of existing efficiencies and effectiveness within the Department's wildland fire management organization/program; and 
  • identification of potential areas where additional efficiencies can be achieved and where duplication of efforts could be eliminated that will ultimately lead to more funding on the ground where it is needed the most. 

What is the projected timeline for the Interior Fire Program Assessment 2012 Project?  

Award Date April 9
Kick-Off Meeting April 11

Project Management Plan
Draft
Final


April 11
April 18

Beseline/Improvement Opportunities Report (Task 1)
Draft
Final

 
June 15
July 3

Recommendations for Restructuring (Task 2)
Draft
Final

 
August 7
August 23

Results of "Down-Select" (Task 3A)
Draft
Final

 
September 15
September 21

Exercise Option for Task 4 Before October 17

Implementation Plan (Task 3)
Draft
Final

 
October 1
October 17