Department Of Interior

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Contact:Joan Moody
For Immediate Release: July 15, 2003

Assistant Secretary Lynn Scarlett Welcomes New Team
Charged with Implementing Historic Land Appraisal Reforms

WASHINGTON - Assistant Secretary of the Interior Lynn Scarlett today welcomed members of a new team charged with providing direction for implementing historic land appraisal reforms - reforms that Interior Secretary Gale Norton said are "long overdue."

Meeting here for the first time today, the Appraisal Reform Implementation Team will devise an action plan and schedule for consolidating real estate appraisal functions now performed by various agencies within the Department of the Interior - a major reform recommended for several decades.

"We have provided the broad parameters for reform, but we are depending on you - the experts in realty, appraisals, human resources, and other critical areas - to suggest how to make it happen, " Scarlett told the new team, composed of 15 appraisal, realty, human resources and field management experts from the Interior Department, its component bureaus, and the Department of Justice (see list at end).

Secretary of the Interior Norton announced on June 19 that the department's appraisals will be consolidated, a decision called "a real victory for appraisers" by the American Society of Appraisers (ASA). "The action responds to long-standing concerns about the management of appraisal functions as documented for several decades in reports issued by Interior's Inspector General, the General Accounting Office, an Appraisal Foundation study. . . and an interagency team under the auspices of the Bureau of Land Management," ASA noted in a June 27 release.

"The ASA confirms this consolidation will ensure appraiser independence," said Scarlett, "allowing the Department of the Interior to provide objective appraisals that meet professional standards for lands under consideration for acquisition or exchange."

The plan will be designed to avoid extensive disruption to employees, to minimize budget impacts and to address the needs and priorities of agency land acquisition and exchange programs. The department expects to formally establish the new organization by September 30.
Scarlett noted today that a report in 1956 made 27 recommendations related to appraisal reform, but by 1968 only one of them had been implemented. In 1968, the precursor to the Inspector General recommended the creation of a single departmental appraisal organization.
"Even then unbiased observers understood, and I quote, the 'organizational placement of the appraisal function in most bureaus tends to restrict independence and to deemphasize the significance of the appraisal as an end product,'" Scarlett noted today. "We are depending on you to provide recommendations to restructure the appraisal function to ensure appraiser independence and objectivity, ensure confidence in the department's appraisal work, respond to bureau realty priorities, promote good government, and increase the efficient use of taxpayer dollars.

Assistant Secretary Scarlett announced that the team coordinator is Larry Finfer, Deputy Director of the DOI Office of Policy Analysis. The Appraisal Reform Implementation Team that convened for an all-day meeting at DOI today includes:

Appraisal Reform Implementation Team

Jim Abbott, Associate State Director-California, Bureau of Land Management

Eric Alvarez, Chief, Division of Realty, Fish and Wildlife Service

Dave Anderson, Deputy Director, Office of Personnel Policy, DOI-Policy Management and Budget

Kent Baum, Human Resources Officer, Fish and Wildlife Service

Eric Chiapponi, Appraiser, Department of Justice

Larry Finfer, Deputy Director, Office of Policy Analysis, DOI-Policy, Management and Budget (PPA), Coordinator of Implementation Team

Richard Fitzgerald, Trust Policy Officer, Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians

Alex Glade, Chief Appraiser, Fish and Wildlife Service

Elizabeth Hanna, Supervisory Appraiser, Fish and Wildlife Service (Region 3)

Woodrow Hopper, Director of Human Resources, Bureau of Indian Affairs

Sherry Morrissette, Budget Officer, National Business Center, DOI

Larry Ragels, Chief Appraiser, Bureau of Reclamation

Shawn Redfield, Supervisory Appraiser, Arizona State Office, Bureau of Land Management

Bill Shaddox, Chief, Division of Land Resources, National Park Service

Gerry Stoebig, Chief Appraiser, National Park Service


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