Published since 1946
Department of the Interior Announces Unified Regions
On August 29, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced its plans to reorganize 49 existing regions for the eight Interior bureaus into 12 Unified Regions over the coming weeks. The new regions are based along watershed and ecosystem areas while also generally following state boundaries based on feedback from governors. More details of the changes were outlined to agency staff with answers to some frequently asked questions.
“As we proceed forward with the next steps of our reorganization effort, our new Unified Regions will allow important decisions to be made nearer to where our stakeholders and intergovernmental partners live and work, and will make joint problem-solving and improved coordination between our Bureaus and other Federal, State, and local agencies easier,” commented Secretary Zinke in a statement. “Our new organization also will reduce bureaucratic redundancy, will improve communication between our experts in the field and leaders in Washington, D.C., and will allow us to share our knowledge and resources more effectively among the Department’s field staff and local stakeholders.”
In announcing the changes, the department made it clear that they will not be reprogramming funds or making other organizational changes within bureaus at this time. According to information distributed by Todd Wynn, director of the office of intergovernmental and external affairs within the secretary’s office, there will be a series of steps that will be proceeding over the coming weeks, including:
- Create Regional Leadership Teams composed of SES employees from each Bureau in each Unified Region.
- The SES Leadership Team of each Unified Region will identify a Regional Facilitator. The Regional Facilitator is tasked with collectively organizing activities of the Unified region on six specific areas: collaborative conservation, recreation, permitting, acquisition, human resource management, and information technology management.
- Regional Leadership Teams will then identify key personnel and create six individual teams to work on the six areas of focus in each region. Tasks to be addressed by the Regional Facilitator and specific deliverables will be developed during this period.
- The Regional Facilitators and the Regional Leadership Teams will identify the “as is” and “future state” operations for their Unified Region.
- The Regional Facilitators and the Regional Leadership Teams will also develop an options paper to be used in selecting the Interior Regional Director (IRD) and in establishing an IRD rotation process. The IRD duties for each Unified Region will be similar, but geographic areas of the country will require slightly different skills and experience depending on the priority issues for that Unified Region.