Date: Friday, June 17, 2022
WASHINGTON – Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland today issued Secretary’s Order 3408, which revokes Secretary’s Order 3368. That Order, which was signed on Sept. 11, 2018, imposed redundant, inefficient and vague obligations on the Department and its litigation processes that do not serve the goals of transparency and efficiency.
The previous Order stated that it was intended “to promote transparency and accountability in consent decrees and settlements” and “better ensure that the Department’s views … reflect the scope of the Department’s authority and the public interest.” The goals of transparency and accountability are paramount for the Interior Department, but the Order did not promote them.
The previous Order added unnecessary obstacles to the Department’s ability to enter into rational and fair settlements, imposed requirements and timelines inconsistent with those set by courts, and added redundant reporting obligations. The previous Order provided no tangible benefits to the public while interfering with the Department’s ability to make decisions about litigation that are in the best interests of the federal government and taxpayers.
In addition to impacting settlement discussions and negotiations, which parties typically agree to keep confidential, the Order was at odds with Congress’s direction in the Equal Access to Justice Act to provide individuals and organizations with the ability to recover litigation costs.
Secretary Haaland and the Interior Department are committed to upholding the highest ethical, legal and moral standards and to ensuring that transparency and efficiency guide the Department’s work. Today’s action helps advance those goals and ensures that both the Department and the American public can navigate the litigation process with appropriate clarity and efficiency.