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Other Budget Issues

Last Updated: 5/20/2011
Budget Issue: Staffing in Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR)
Program: Department of Conservation
Finding or Recommendation: Deny Governor's proposal for an increase of 30 permanent positions and six limited-term positions, and a baseline appropriation of $4,686,000 from the Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Administrative Fund, for DOGGR's offshore and onshore regulatory programs.
Further Detail

Governor’s May Revision Proposal. The Governor’s May Revision proposal requests an increase of 36 positions (30 permanent, 6 limited-term) and $4,686,000 from the Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Administrative Fund to enhance the onshore and offshore regulatory programs of the department's DOGGR. 

Background. The DOGGR is responsible for regulating all onshore and offshore hydrocarbon field operations in order to prevent damage to state resources and provide adequate protection for oil field workers and surrounding communities. The DOGGR evaluates permit applications to drill, rework, and plug oil and gas operations in the state, including abandoned wells. It also provides expertise to local planning agencies and building developers when new development is proposed over historic oil field operations.

Legislature Approved 17 positions for DOGGR in 2010-11. During the 2010-11 budget year, the Legislature approved a request by the Administration for 17 positions that were intended to enhance the regulatory program activities of DOGGR. However, these positions have only recently been filled, and some do not have start dates until June 2011. Therefore, at this point, it is not possible to evaluate the impact that these additional staff will have on the division's current workload. This analysis will be needed in order to adequately evaluate the need for any additional staffing.

LAO Recommendation. Because the Legislature lacks the information to evaluate the impact of recently added positions on DOGGR's staffing requirements going forward, it is premature to further increase the level of staffing for DOGGR at this time as the appropriate total level of staffing required by the division is unknown. As such, we recommend that the Legislature deny the Governor's May Revision proposal. Furthermore, we recommend that the Legislature direct that the Administration, in conjunction with any future-year budget change proposal related to DOGGR staffing, submit a comprehensive analysis of DOGGR's staffing requirements that includes an analysis of the impact the recent addition of 17 positions has had in enabling the division to meet the statutory duties imposed on it in an effective and timely manner.