The Business of Government Hour

 

About the show

The Business of Government Hour features a conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business. The executives discuss their careers and the management challenges facing their organizations. Past government executives include Administrators, Chief Financial Officers, Chief Information Officers, Chief Operating Officers, Commissioners, Controllers, Directors, and Undersecretaries.

The interviews

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Nina Hatfield interview

Friday, April 27th, 2001 - 20:00
Phrase: 
"We manage one of every five acres of land in the U.S. with a mission to protect and provide access to our nation's natural and cultural heritage."
Radio show date: 
Sat, 04/28/2001
Guest: 
Intro text: 
Missions and Programs...

Missions and Programs

Magazine profile: 
Complete transcript: 

Arlington, Virginia

Wednesday, April 18, 2001

Mr. Lawrence: Welcome to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers and the co-chair of The Endowment for The Business of Government. We created the endowment in 1998 to encourage discussion and research into new approaches to improving government effectiveness. Find out more about the endowment by visiting us on the web at endowment.pwcglobal.com.

The Business of Government Hour features a conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business. Our conversation today is with Nina Rose Hatfield, acting director, Bureau of Land Management of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Welcome, Nina.

Ms. Hatfield: Well, thank you very much, Paul. I'm glad to be here.

Mr. Lawrence: Well, let's start out by finding a little bit more about the Bureau of Land Management. Can you describe the activities for our listeners?

Ms. Hatfield: Surely. Well, the Bureau of Land Management manages about 265 million acres of the public land -- owned by the taxpayers, and we hold it in stewardship for the taxpayers -- primarily located in the West. And in addition to that, we also take care of doing the mineral leasing for other federal agencies, and that would entail about another 700 million acres across the country.

The bureau has what we call a multiple-use mission, and as a result of that we deal with a lot of varied activities on the federal lands, varying from recreation to world-class energy sources to world-class kinds of conservation areas. And we provide a lot of support for local communities in the context of open spaces and providing things like rights of way where they need to communication to a local area. We also have a wild horse and burro program that's very active. And we are working very hard in terms of trying to provide habitat for threatened and endangered species, since we do have the land mass that would allow for that kind of habitat conservation.

But overall, as you look at the population of the West having increased so much over the last few years, you know, the BLM lands are becoming more and more valued because of the importance of the open spaces and habitat for threatened and endangered species and all the other activities that go on around those communities.

Mr. Lawrence: How many employees are there at BLM and what type skills do they have? You described so many diverse things; I couldn't quite imagine a typical one.

Ms. Hatfield: Well, actually, BLM is sort of like a mini-Department of the Interior, because so many different kinds of activities do go on in the public lands. And we have about 9,000 employees; that swells in the summer as we hire temporaries, particularly for fire. So, we do have a diversity of skills ranging from natural resource kinds of specialties to recreationists, planners, people who are familiar with horses -- just all kinds of activities. Primarily, though, I'd say around the natural resources, natural science kinds of backgrounds.

Mr. Lawrence: Take a minute and tell us about your career. What drew you to public service?

Ms. Hatfield: Well, as I reflect on what's happened to me over the last few years in terms of public service, I think probably a primary draw comes right out of my childhood. I was raised in eastern Kentucky, and I recognized as a very young child that -- I'd read about clean water and clean air, but the streams in eastern Kentucky, especially at that point in time, were really pretty dirty from coal silt. So, I was very interested in the kind of public good that can come from looking at how you can help people accomplish in communities things like clean air, clean water. And so as I went through school, you know, I looked at and worked hard in those kinds of areas.

I came to state government. I was with the attorney general's office -- I'm a lawyer by profession -- and have migrated then through to the Department of the Interior and worked with the Office of Surface Mining and now at the Bureau of Land Management.

But I think the thread through all of that is the fact that I have seen public service as the kind of thing that you can do where you can help a lot of people at once. And it was much more interesting to me than, for instance, doing private law practice, where I saw that you were dealing with one or two people, maybe a corporation. With the public service, you can really impact a lot of people.

Mr. Lawrence: What positions best prepared you to be leader of such a large organization?

Ms. Hatfield: I think it's really sort of the variety of experiences that I've had. I've had jobs in which I worked with legislatures, and so I have some concept of how the law is made and kind of how personalities impact on how a law is made. I've also worked in different types of programs at different areas. I've been a state director; I've been in a regional office; I've been in a national office. And so I have a working relationship in terms of how those kinds of pieces fit together in an organizational fabric, in terms of the culture of the organization, how it works.

And I think just having a diversity of programs. I've worked in different organizations. And I really believe that that actually has some benefits over having been home-grown in an organization, so that you really only have one concept of how a problem can be solved. And I bring to my job some different orientations, and so I think I can draw on those different skills and different orientations to look at a particular problem and how we might approach it.

Mr. Lawrence: Which positions gave you the biggest challenges, and what were they?

Ms. Hatfield: Well, I think it's the ones that involved, sort of, start-ups, if you will. When I was with the attorney general's office in Ohio, I dealt with a program that was -- actually, I created it. And so I learned something about, you know, getting people to do the work that you needed to do and trying to set the goals, those kinds of things.

And the same thing when I was with the Office of Surface Mining. I was there at the very inception of a major program, and so, you know, I could see how that you had to bring personnel activities, all those kind of infrastructure things into actually achieving your program goals.

And at BLM, you know, I've certainly been involved in trying to shift the organization's focus from the way it had been doing business to a more modern approach to doing business -- one that is very consistent with the Government Performance and Results Act.

And so I think it's that those experiences that I've had in starting up programs that have really helped me now in terms of trying to move the organization into the future.

Mr. Lawrence: Well, you mentioned the changes that are taking place at BLM. How has the organizational culture changed since you've been there?

Ms. Hatfield: Well, I think it's more than just since I've been there. I look at it more historically than that. In the late '50s and early '60s, certainly, the bureau was sometimes characterized as being the "Bureau of Livestock and Mining," because those tended to be dominant program areas that the bureau dealt with. And in fact, an emblem of the bureau had about four or five males carrying, like, a pickaxe and a shovel and some surveying equipment, because we'd come out of the surveying organization. And many of our employees have spent their entire career with BLM, often in the same place. And BLM was very much in the arena of trying to dispose of the public lands.

But with our organic act, the Federal Land Management Policy Act, all of that sort of changed. And I think that as a result of that, we've grown into a much more multi-focused organization -- again, multiple use, with all kinds of uses ranging from recreation, still to doing energy and mineral development, still doing grazing on the public lands. But certainly the organic act recognized the value of the public lands, and we moved from a program of disposing of public lands to trying to look at how we would manage the public lands to create the kinds of things that we're now trying to work on.

And so we still have all of the energy programs, grazing programs, the traditional uses, but we're more varied now in terms of adding to that portfolio our recreation program, our conservation programs. I think a lot more cultural diversity in terms of what our employees are doing, and certainly internally we expect a variety of work experience at various levels, some headquarters experience, and we value the fact that some of our employees now are coming from other agencies and other experiences.

So I think all those are leading to sort of a change in terms of our culture and the way that our people approach problem-solving within the bureau.

Mr. Lawrence: I'm talking with Nina Rose Hatfield. This is The Business of Government Hour. We'll rejoin our conversation in just a few minutes. (Intermission)

Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers. And our conversation today is with Nina Rose Hatfield, acting director of the Bureau of Land Management in the U.S. Department of Interior.

Well, Nina, we know that the BLM has done extensive work tracking employee and customer satisfaction. Could you tell us more about this?

Ms. Hatfield: Certainly, Paul. This is an area that I think is so critical to a modern organization really doing well. And so we have been very aggressive in terms of trying to begin to gather some data about how our customers feel about our delivery of services.

And let me tell you, the first time that we met with our contractor in terms of beginning to try to put together some surveying techniques and instruments, our contractor dealt with, like, American Express and agencies that had sort of one or two focuses. And when he started hearing about the breadth of customers that BLM had, you know, he just go whiter and whiter; he was about ready to pass out on us. And that was our first problem, was even trying to identify customer segments in a way that we could begin to gather information.

So we've done that, and we are on sort of a cycle of every two years trying to survey both our employees and major customer segments. And, you know, what we've discovered is that the information we find out about our employees obviously has a very direct impact on how your external customers feel about the organization.

And so, quite frankly, we've probably done as much work or anything in terms of trying to work with our employees almost as much as we have with our external customers. We've gone through three cycles now, and what we discovered in the middle cycle, with the middle survey, was the employee satisfaction had actually fallen. And so that was very distressful to the executive leadership team.

And so we went in and we've done some things in terms of trying to deal with communication. One of the things that was interesting about that survey is -- during the period of time that BLM was downsizing -- was that our employees were telling us that, you know, they didn't feel like they had enough management to deal with, that, you know, they didn't get enough day-to-day conversation with their managers. And so we've gone back and we've actually increased some management level that we hadn't had before or had taken away.

We discovered just the overwhelming frustration for our employees was trying to deal with these different programs in an era in which the bureau had had very static budgets. So we were very aggressive in trying to begin to explain to Congress and the department about our budgetary needs. And that's been helped somewhat in the past couple of years and, I think, in the upcoming budget.

And then we also looked at the fact that our employees were telling us that our managers needed some more skills. And so we've reinstituted some training programs for employees and for managers in the bureau. Actually, we made about a $2 million investment to start some things up again.

And as a result of that, the next survey showed that our employee satisfaction had gone up. Now, it's clearly not where we wish it would be, and we're still working on that. But we take the information and we're trying to do action state-by-state, office-by-office, and nationally to try to respond to that.

On the external customer level, we have a series of comment cards that we try to use, so that if you're on one of our recreation sites you might get a comment card. If you are interacting with an employee at a state office, you get a comment card. We have public information offices; we give our customers comment cards.

And that comment card actually allows us to get very localized information. And generally speaking, you know, the people who respond are very positive toward the interaction they've had with the BLM employee. But sometimes you find that they're not very happy because we didn't have enough rest rooms on a recreation site, an employee wasn't able to provide them some information they wanted. And so we use those comment cards on a local level to try to deal with those kinds of issues.

Nationally, we have taken the comment cards and tried to address some things like, you know, our customers are telling us that they want more access to our programs over the Internet. And so we've been very aggressive there. For instance, with a number of other federal agencies, we've organized and entered into recreation.gov. And from that site, people can go on the Internet, find out where our camping areas are, when they're open, if they can make reservations, how much it's going to cost -- all that kind of information.

We have another site called glo.gov and that deals with Government Land Office records. We're the holder of the government's land records. And so if you had a Revolutionary soldier who got a land patent from Thomas Jefferson as a reward for having served in the war, we're the ones that have those records. And so they're really very interesting records. And the genealogists, people interested in genealogy, have discovered that Web site and we have had over 100 million hits on that one Web site alone.

And so that's, you know, a good use of technology, also responding to customer. Oil and gas customers can get their permits over it. We do wild horse and burro adoptions over the Internet -- all kinds of things like that. Our wild horse and burro adoptees suggested some things in terms of when they wanted to see the horses for adoptions, the hours that were more convenient to them, and so we've made adjustments in our adoption process as a result of that customer information.

I'll be the first to tell you I think we have a lot more to do in this area in terms of using the information, but we certainly are systematically gathering it, and we're trying to incorporate it into the way we set our goals and the way we deliver our services.

Mr. Lawrence: Well, you mentioned technology, and I'd like to follow up by asking about technology. What's the ALMRS system?

Ms. Hatfield: Well, we don't have an ALMRS system. What ALMRS was intended to do was to provide our employees modern access to lands records, and then also we were hoping to add some data about the natural resources on the land -- a lot of things that ALMRS was intended to do. And that was the first problem. The first vision of ALMRS kept getting creep in terms of what we were expecting it to do.

And so after about a 15-year odyssey and $65 million later, we had a system that when it was tested by our employees, our employees absolutely hated it. As a matter of fact, one of the comments I saw from one of our employees said, "You can deploy this, but I'm not going to use it." And I looked at the specs for it and it was actually slower than their legacy system. So I understood why that they didn't want to use it.

So we made the decision that we just weren't going to deploy it. But it obviously caused a lot of attention from Congress and from GAO and the department, a lot of concern. And so I think that it put us in a situation of looking at where we were in terms of technology and what we wanted to do and needed to do.

Two years ago, we were at a stage of trying to come out of having decided not to deploy ALMRS, but we had about 60 national systems that we were operating and maintaining, about 600 state systems that we were operating and maintaining. And these were all systems that didn't share data, they don't talk to each other.

For example, if you came in and bought a Christmas tree from us, we'd put it into one system; if you got a permit from us, we'd put it in another system. None of those systems talk to our financial system. And so the data had to be reentered maybe four or five times to get to where it ultimately was used.

And so that's costing us a lot of money. And we really became avid believers in the Clinger-Cohen Act. And so we have a full-time CIO -- chief information officer -- the only one in Interior, and we've developed a bureau architecture. We've developed an investment strategy and put a board in place to oversee that investment strategy. And we're moving to create data standards that will be used across all of our systems.

And our goal is to take our systems, go through and systematically retire them as we create more modern systems, so that we will be in the situation of having fewer systems to operate and maintain. And I think that the overall result of that is going to be that we will be able to move more money to actually doing work on the ground. And that's our goal.

For me, it has two major impacts. One, the money that we can move to doing things on the ground, more riparian restoration, for example, and operating systems. And we'll also help our employees be more efficient in terms of what they are doing. So that's the reason we're so aggressive in this area.

Mr. Lawrence: Well, it's time for a break. We'll be back with more of The Business of Government Hour in just a minute. (Intermission)

Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers. And today's conversation is with Nina Rose Hatfield, acting director of Bureau of Land Management in the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Well, Nina, in the previous segment you gave a description of a technology program that had a lot of issues and a lot of decisions were made. Could you tell what the lessons learned from that were that others might learn from?

Ms. Hatfield: Well, I think very importantly to us was the fact that we just had to make the decision, in this case, if you will, to "just say no," that we were not going to deploy this, that we were going to take the public heat of having spent $65 million without a deployable system.

Now, I think that's been well worth it. And it actually so shocked the organization, that we really had trouble killing it inside. I mean, you know, we had these contractors that we were continuing. We had to say finally to our RM organization, "we're not going to deploy this system, you need to get those contractors off the payroll."

And, you know, even within our states, they just couldn't believe that we were not going to deploy this system. And we had to keep communicating we are not going to spend additional money on this system. We're going to go to where we need to be in terms of a modern system.

You've got to keep in mind the goals for the system were fine. And we're still pursuing those goals. But we're doing it in a different way. One of the problems we had with ALMRS was just the mission creep, in terms of what we tried to do.

And I think our real purpose in having an investment board is that the investment board approves a project, and they track the project to make sure that it's not getting into mission creep. If it gets into the project's going to take more money than we'd originally budgeted for it, that investment group's going to have to sign off on the fact that, yeah, we really do want to invest that much more money into this particular system. So, we're trying to put a lot more management controls into the way we approach it.

The other thing that is really important, I think, the fact that ALMRS took so long in trying to develop the software meant that what hardware we bought along the way was obsolete by the time we got to deployment. And so we're trying to get those into better synch.

But we're also not trying to do so much of a specialty software development, but what we are doing, we're doing in a modular fashion. So that we develop a piece, test it; if it works, you know, we're going to move on with it. But if it doesn't work, we haven't lost so much of an investment. So the modular approach, I think is very important to where we're headed now.

But, you know, it was really a lesson that was hard to learn but I think well worth the effort to get through and make the decision we were going to take the heat for saying no.

Mr. Lawrence: What's the bureau's architecture project?

Ms. Hatfield: Well, I think that's the backbone for where we're headed in terms of technology in the Bureau of Land Management. If you will, I think of the architecture as being the road map for where we're headed. It has a piece in it which, any time that we're going to do something, we have to go back and look at the work process -- how is the work really done, what's the information you need to do that work.

And so the architecture lays out a process by which we will look at the work, describe the data that we need to do the work, and then lays out a framework for the kind of software that we're going to deploy and the kind of hardware that we're going to use. So that we don't have, as we are now operating, two or three, four operating systems. We'll have a single operating system. And we'll have a suite of software instead of bureau employees just going out and buying software all over the place, which is both expensive in terms of licensing to maintain the different software, but also costs us a lot in terms of maintenance.

So the architecture is bringing us back to some specific bureau parameters for data, for work processes, for software applications, and for the hardware that we're going to use to deploy the software. And that road map is one that we're really going to hold to. We're not going to deploy software that doesn't meet our architecture.

And as a result of that, I think that we'll, as I said, have technology within the bureau that is much more affordable to us and moreover will be much more accessible and usable to our employees.

Mr. Lawrence: What kind of steps does BLM take to manage costs?

Ms. Hatfield: Well, we have a very aggressive cost management system. As you, I'm sure, know, VASEB a couple of years ago dictated that government agencies have a cost-management system. And we looked at that very seriously. My previous experience had been that as we had tried to improve our work processes, it was very difficult for us to cost out how much it was costing us to do the work at that point in time. And so I was very interested in this on a personal level because of that experience.

And so we've really gone into activity-based costing within the bureau. And as a result of that, we've actually created an information system so that you can have information about how much our GPRA goal areas are costing us, how much our work processes are costing us, and how much pieces of each work process are costing.

And we have that available to every employee. From their desktop, they can look at how much it's costing them to do oil and gas leases as compared to another state or to another part of their state. And we are trying to get people to look at how they're spending the money.

And we're beginning to budget. Part of our budget decision is who's spending the money more effectively; where could we spend the money in one state and get maybe more leases done because they do it much more efficiently than another state will.

Mostly, we've tried to get people to look at the cost management data and say, now, here are some questions we need to ask. Why is it costing my field office so much more to do that piece of work than it is another office? Now, there may be very reasonable explanations. You know, their environmental impact statement may have been a $3 million impact statement versus a half-million dollar impact statement in a neighboring field office. But we want them to ask those questions. Why is it costing us so much? Where is it that we can save some money? Because we recognize that every dollar we can save in doing the work, we have that available to do something else.

So I would say that we have, you know, one of the best systems around in terms of making that information available real time to every employee.

As an example of how we've used it, we had in our wild horse and burro program, when we first started looking at our cost data, we recognized that we were spending almost a quarter of all of our program dollars between the time that the horse was gathered off of the range and the time that the horse was adopted. I mean, we were feeding them through a quarter of our program. And we were spending an average, I believe, of about 90 days feeding them.

So I asked the program, I said, well, how many days do we need to prepare the horse from the time we gather it to adoption? Well, the horse program didn't like this, but I viewed it as sort of our L.L. Bean -- we have a horse, we want to deliver the horse to the customer, it takes us some time to make sure they get their shots, that they're healthy and all that kind of thing. So it takes us a little over 30 days.

So I said, okay, let's see if we can get down to 30 days. And you know, we went through the cost data and looked at how much it was costing State A versus State B to do those. And we started allocating our budget on what was, sort of, the median range that we felt they really needed, based on that data. And that caused a lot of internal heartburn, believe me, when they didn't just get the amount that they'd gotten the year before, or that amount-plus. And what was happening is they were actually taking program dollars off of other program areas to support the horses.

And we said, okay, we're just not going to let you go do a gather anytime you want to. We're going to coordinate our gathers with when we want to do our adoptions, so that we can do it in a more efficient manner. We did that, and that certainly improved our cost, but we didn't have enough money in the program to get to our ultimate goal.

So we looked at it and we said, you know, we're doing better in terms of cost, but we're still not meeting our strategic objective. So what do we need to do to meet our strategic objective? And the wild horse and burro people went back and looked at the numbers, and they started looking at it, and they were absolutely aghast that, in fact, we could bring horses off to the management level that was appropriate for that area and put them in what we think of as long-term care -- actually, pasturing them -- until we can get them adopted. And over time, we can get the number of horses down to where we need them to be on the range and it will actually cost us less money.

And so we took this business case to the department. We took this business case to the Congress. And Congress has actually appropriated us $9 million more over last year to begin getting those horses down to the number we want to have them on the range.

And that strategic plan and strategic approach has really been driven by the cost information. Had we not had the cost information, we wouldn't have known how we could have gotten to where we want to go, and I certainly don't think we would have been as persuasive in terms of making the case about our approach. And so we're just really excited about how this cost data is beginning to help us to manage the programs.

Mr. Lawrence: We'll be back with more of The Business of Government Hour in just a minute. (Intermission)

Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers. And today's conversation is with Nina Rose Hatfield, acting director, Bureau of Land Management, of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Well, Nina, one of the things that has always interested me, BLM deals regularly with competing and sometimes conflicting interests -- Congress, other agencies, ranchers, environmentalists. How do you keep all these stakeholders satisfied, or attempt to keep them satisfied?

Ms. Hatfield: I think "attempting" is the key word there. Clearly, there is an enormous range of views about the kinds of activities that ought to happen on the public land. And I think that where BLM really puts a lot of emphasis and tries hard is in the conversation with different stakeholders about what ought to happen on the public lands.

And so we've established a group of what we call resource advisory councils at the local level, in our state organizations. And those resource advisory councils actually have representatives from multiple interest groups. And so our state directors and our field managers can sit down and talk with those representatives of the group. And they actually provide us very good advice about what we should do in terms -- and how we should deal with the competing interests at those local levels.

So, we think that those kinds of mechanisms are tremendously important to us in terms of having the stakeholders involved in the decision making with us in terms of what we need to do on the public land, and it helps provide support for the decisions. So, I think any kind of mechanism like that is a real plus.

We also do a lot of that conversation through our land use planning process. Each area has a land use plan, and we go through a very public process in terms of talking about what we plan to do on that land. And local people are involved, national interests, and so that is a mechanism, again, which we try to get people talking about what those interests ought to be.

And then ultimately, sometimes, you know, we're in the situation of having to make decisions that obviously going to be unpopular with one side or the other. But I think that having had these conversations provides us a good basis for trying to make a public decision that's in the public's interest.

So we really do work hard in terms of the conversation piece, and ultimately just take our responsibility seriously in terms of making decisions.

Mr. Lawrence: One of the toughest challenges that many employers are now facing is recruiting or retaining employees. Does BLM have this problem?

Ms. Hatfield: Absolutely. We are, as other federal agencies are, potentially facing a loss of almost half of our employees over the next five years. I think that, what I think of as a skill drain is one of the most pressing issues in the government today.

So BLM has started trying to look at our work force, look at the skills. And we're working on a work force plan so that we can identify where we're going to need schools in the future. We're actively trying to get students working with BLM, entry-level employees working with BLM, so that we can have that skill transfer, if you will, from employees who've been there to younger employees to begin to transfer that knowledge.

But it's a huge concern. We see that in every single program. Some of our programs, like Cadastral Survey, which is, you know, a bedrock program for the bureau, given that we are the nation's surveyor, you know, we really see there, for example, our employees are right on the verge of leaving. And so we're having to struggle with that now.

Mr. Lawrence: What's the future of land management in the 21st century?

Ms. Hatfield: Well, I think that one thing is that we, within BLM, are going to have to be reflective of the demographic changes that are going on in the communities that we work with. And so we're trying to change our work force as we have new people coming in and as we can acquire new skills, so that we are reflective of the changing face of the communities that we're dealing with. And it's certainly true, again, where you have such a dynamic population growth and change in the West.

So I think in the future that the bureau will reflect more of the changing demographics of the communities. I think we're also going to have a lot more variety in the way that we acquire skills. Again, going back to the fact that we're looking at a large skill-drain here in the next few years, I think that the work force in the bureau in the future will have some core competencies in terms of the full-time employee, but we'll augmenting those skills by contracting shorter-term kinds of employees.

I try to tell our folks now that, you know, our internal full-time employees need to think of themselves in every kind of situation as being managers of trying to get something done. That where in the past, they may have gone out and taken a water sample -- and, of course, they like to be out there on the ground, that's one of the reasons they're employed with us -- they may have gone and taken the water sample in the past, but in the future, you know, we may need to get them to be the contract overseer of a group of people going out and taking water samples for us. We may have taken care of the thousands of miles of roads that we have on public lands in the past, but in the future, we're going to contract with people in local communities to take care of those roads.

So I think our employees have to think about their work differently, and we have to prepare to do it differently. I certainly think, as we talked about just a few minutes ago, that there's going to be increasing public pressure to be at the table with us in terms of making decisions. And I think that the bureau is well-prepared for that change, and I would see that just increasing and, actually, in my mind, a very positive approach to public policy making.

We'll have a younger work force. I think we'll continue to be looking at trying to do multiple things on the lands, that we won't be like agencies where you only have one activity. On BLM lands, we'll continue to have this diversity ranging from recreation to energy production.

And certainly, I think this use of technology is going to be enormously important to us, and that's the reason we're so interested in it, that we have to be able to provide our employees and our public, information. To the extent that we can get the public to get their own information and allow our employees to be supervising watershed restoration, we think that's a good mix and we're going to continue to try to do that in the future.

And certainly, I have a bedrock belief that the government as a whole is going to have to be a better business manager. And so we're trying to put ourselves in a position of being really good business managers.

Mr. Lawrence: What advice would you give to a young person who's interested in a career in public service and, say, perhaps even in land management?

Ms. Hatfield: Well, I think that the rewards are just so tremendous that you can have the benefit of actually seeing things happening over time and in real time in terms of the public lands. As I get to travel across what is going on the public lands, BLM manages an area that is the major flyway for migratory birds on the border of Arizona. And, you know, it's really great to come across what's really an arid area, and you see this patch of green along the Rio Grande that is managed by BLM.

We manage an area in Idaho that is the largest birds of prey area in the United States and one of the largest in the entire world. We manage some redwood trees in Northern California. That's one of the largest undisturbed areas of redwoods in the entire world.

And so when you see the things that are going on in the public lands -- the grazing. I mean, we provide grazing areas. The opportunities that we have to influence habitat restoration for endangered species. The opportunities are just so great to have a real hand on the future of the country, that, you know, I think that it brings a great deal of personal satisfaction in all the kinds of work that we do.

Mr. Lawrence: What type skills would you advise they have?

Ms. Hatfield: Well, I think that you certainly have to have a technical background. But Paul, I think the real skills that are going to be needed are those of communication, because it's so important that we communicate with the people we're working with. I think the skills of organization, in terms of being able to look at work and figuring out how you can leverage the resources you have to get it done, are really going to be important to our employees. I look at them as being entrepreneurs.

Mr. Lawrence: I'm afraid we're out of time. I want to thank you very much, Nina, for our conversation today. I've enjoyed it very much.

Ms. Hatfield: Well, so have I. And thank you for having me.

Mr. Lawrence: This has been The Business of Government Hour featuring a conversation with Nina Rose Hatfield, acting director of the Bureau of Land Management in the U.S. Department of Interior.

To learn more about the Endowment's programs and research into new approaches to improving government effectiveness, visit us on the Web at endowment.pwcglobal.com.

See you next week.

Nina Hatfield interview
04/28/2001
"We manage one of every five acres of land in the U.S. with a mission to protect and provide access to our nation's natural and cultural heritage."

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