Department Of Interior

DOI News Header
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.
The department's plan minimizes disruption to employees, and no job losses are anticipated. Appraisers will have opportunities for enhanced training and professional development under the new office, which will also have the capacity to improve contract management and monitoring. Additionally, the new office will work with agency managers to assure it meets the needs and priorities of land transaction programs.

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.


Selected News Releases