Grijalva Requests GAO Analysis of Bureau of Land Management Hacking Vulnerability in Online Lease Sales of Public Resources
Washington, D.C. – Amid growing public concern over whether our nation’s political and governmental computer systems are vulnerable to foreign hacking, Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today requested a Government Accountability Office (GAO) assessment of the threat of hacking to the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) new online lease sale system for public mineral resources. In his request letter, available a http://bit.ly/2lLQy2p, Grijalva also asks GAO to assess the new online system’s potential to increase public revenue over the previous in-person leasing system; BLM’s future plans for the online system; challenges the agency may face in using the online system to reduce overhead costs; and BLM’s use of online data to monitor lease sale competitiveness and continue to improve the system over time.
Revenue from oil and gas activities on leased federal lands and waters are among the largest nontax sources of federal funds. BLM manages onshore federal leases and, under the Mineral Leasing Act, holds federal lease sales in each state where eligible lands are available.
In the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress provided BLM authority to conduct lease sales online, with the hope that such sales could increase revenues, improve transparency, and reduce BLM’s administrative costs compared to in-person auctions. Grijalva’s request seeks to shed light on whether the transition from in-person to online leasing has generated taxpayer savings and whether it is secure from foreign manipulation.
“Any leasing system has to be cost-effective and respect the public desire to know how our resources are being managed,” Grijalva said. “If there are problems we need to know about them now, and if there are fixes we need to implement them now. Being good stewards of our public resources means not leaving these questions to chance. That’s why I’m very much looking forward to working with GAO to get the answers we need.”
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