Main Interior Building
|March 3, 1849
|U.S. federal government
|$17.6 billion (2022)
The United States Department of the Interior (DOI) is an executive department of the U.S. federal government responsible for the management and conservation of most federal lands and natural resources. It also administers programs relating to Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, territorial affairs, and insular areas of the United States, as well as programs related to historic preservation. About 75% of federal public land is managed by the department, with most of the remainder managed by the Department of Agriculture's Forest Service.The department was created on March 3, 1849. It is headquartered at the Main Interior Building, located at 1849 C Street NW in Washington, D.C.
The department is headed by the secretary of the interior, who reports directly to the president of the United States and is a member of the president's Cabinet. The current secretary is Deb Haaland.
As of mid-2004, the department managed 507 million acres (2,050,000 km2) of surface land, or about one-fifth of the land in the United States. It manages 476 dams and 348 reservoirs through the Bureau of Reclamation, 428 national parks, monuments, historical sites, etc. through the National Park Service, and 544 national wildlife refuges through the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Despite its name, the Department of the Interior has a different role from that of the interior ministries of other nations, which are usually responsible for police matters and internal security. In the United States, national security and immigration functions are performed by the Department of Homeland Security primarily and the Department of Justice secondarily. The Department of the Interior has often been humorously called "the Department of Everything Else" because of its broad range of responsibilities.
A department for domestic concern was first considered by the 1st United States Congress in 1789, but those duties were placed in the Department of State. The idea of a separate domestic department continued to percolate for a half-century and was supported by presidents from James Madison to James Polk. The 1846–48 Mexican–American War gave the proposal new steam as the responsibilities of the federal government grew. Polk's secretary of the treasury, Robert J. Walker, became a vocal champion of creating the new department.
In 1849, Walker stated in his annual report that several federal offices were placed in departments with which they had little to do. He noted that the United States General Land Office had little to do with the Treasury and also highlighted the Indian Affairs office, part of the Department of War, and the Patent Office, part of the Department of State. Walker argued that these and other bureaus should be brought together in a new Department of the Interior.[ citation needed ] A bill authorizing its creation of the department passed the House of Representatives on February 15, 1849, and spent just over two weeks in the Senate. The department was established on March 3, 1849 (9 Stat. 395), the eve of President Zachary Taylor's inauguration, when the Senate voted 31 to 25 to create the department. Its passage was delayed by Democrats in Congress who were reluctant to create more patronage posts for the incoming Whig administration to fill. The first secretary of the interior was Thomas Ewing.
Several of the domestic concerns the department originally dealt with were gradually transferred to other departments. For example, the Department of Interior was responsible for water pollution control prior to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.Other agencies became separate departments, such as the Bureau of Agriculture, which later became the Department of Agriculture. However, land and natural resource management, American Indian affairs, wildlife conservation, and territorial affairs remain the responsibilities of the Department of the Interior.
Secretary of the Interior Albert B. Fall was implicated in the Teapot Dome scandal of 1921. He was convicted of bribery in 1929, and served one year in prison, for his part in the controversy. A major factor in the scandal was a transfer of certain oil leases from the jurisdiction of the Department of the Navy to that of the Department of the Interior, at Fall's behest.
Secretary of the Interior James G. Watt faced criticism for his alleged hostility to environmentalism, for his support of the development and use of federal lands by foresting, ranching, and other commercial interests, and for banning the Beach Boys from playing a 1983 Independence Day concert on the National Mall out of concerns of attracting "an undesirable element". His 1983 resignation was prompted by a speech in which he said about his staff: "I have a black, a woman, two Jews and a cripple. And we have talent."
Under the Administration of President George W. Bush, the Interior Department's maintenance backlog climbed from $5 billion to $8.7 billion, despite Bush's campaign pledges to eliminate it completely. Of the agency under Bush's leadership, Interior Department Inspector General Earl Devaney has cited a "culture of fear" and of "ethical failure." Devaney has also said, "Simply stated, short of a crime, anything goes at the highest levels of the Department of Interior."
Within the Interior Department, the Bureau of Indian Affairs handles some federal relations with American Indians, while others are handled by the Office of Special Trustee. The current acting assistant secretary for Indian affairs is Lawrence S. Roberts, an enrolled member of the Oneida Tribe in Wisconsin.
The department has been the subject of disputes over proper accounting for American Indian Trusts set up to track the income and distribution of monies that are generated by the trust and specific American Indian lands, which the government leases for fees to companies that extract oil, timber, minerals, and other resources. Several cases have sought an accounting of such funds from departments within the Interior and Treasury (such as the Minerals Management Service), in what has been a 15-year-old lawsuit. Some American Indian nations have also sued the government over water-rights issues and their treaties with the US. In 2010 Congress passed the Claims Settlement Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-291), which provided $3.4 billion for the settlement of the Cobell v. Salazar class-action trust case and four American Indian water rights cases.
On March 16, 2021, Deb Haaland, serving at that time as a member of Congress for New Mexico, took the oath of office as secretary, becoming the first American Indian to lead an executive department, and the third woman to lead the department.
DOI Convocation Honor Award is the most prestigious recognition that can be granted by the department.
The following awards are presented at the Honor Awards Convocation:
In 2018, DOI established 12 organizational regions to be used across the department. These superseded the previous 49 regions used across 8 agencies.
The United States Secretary of the Interior is the head of the United States Department of the Interior. The secretary and the Department of the Interior are responsible for the management and conservation of most federal land along with natural resources, leading such agencies as the Bureau of Land Management, the United States Geological Survey, Bureau of Indian Affairs and the National Park Service. The secretary also serves on and appoints the private citizens on the National Park Foundation Board. The secretary is a member of the United States Cabinet and reports to the president of the United States. The function of the U.S. Department of the Interior is different from that of the interior minister designated in many other countries.
The United States Department of Justice (DOJ), also known as the Justice Department, is a federal executive department of the United States government tasked with the enforcement of federal law and administration of justice in the United States. It is equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries. The department is headed by the U.S. attorney general, who reports directly to the president of the United States and is a member of the president's Cabinet. The current attorney general is Merrick Garland, who has served since March 2021.
The Department of the Treasury (USDT) is the national treasury and finance department of the federal government of the United States, where it serves as an executive department. The department oversees the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the U.S. Mint. These two agencies are responsible for printing all paper currency and minting coins, while the treasury executes currency circulation in the domestic fiscal system. The USDT collects all federal taxes through the Internal Revenue Service; manages U.S. government debt instruments; licenses and supervises banks and thrift institutions; and advises the legislative and executive branches on matters of fiscal policy. The department is administered by the secretary of the treasury, who is a member of the Cabinet. The treasurer of the United States has limited statutory duties, but advises the Secretary on various matters such as coinage and currency production. Signatures of both officials appear on all Federal Reserve notes.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is a cabinet-level executive branch department of the U.S. federal government created to protect the health of the U.S. people and providing essential human services. Its motto is "Improving the health, safety, and well-being of America". Before the separate federal Department of Education was created in 1979, it was called the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW).
The United States order of precedence is an advisory document maintained by the Ceremonials Division of the Office of the Chief of Protocol of the United States which lists the ceremonial order, or relative preeminence, for domestic and foreign government officials at diplomatic, ceremonial, and social events within the United States and abroad. The list is used to mitigate miscommunication and embarrassment in diplomacy, and offer a distinct and concrete spectrum of preeminence for ceremonies. Often the document is used to advise diplomatic and ceremonial event planners on seating charts and order of introduction. Former presidents, vice presidents, first ladies, second ladies, and secretaries of state and retired Supreme Court justices are also included in the list.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), also known as Indian Affairs (IA), is a United States federal agency within the Department of the Interior. It is responsible for implementing federal laws and policies related to Native Americans and Alaska Natives, and administering and managing over 55,700,000 acres (225,000 km2) of reservations held in trust by the U.S. federal government for indigenous tribes. It renders services to roughly 2 million indigenous Americans across 574 federally recognized tribes. The BIA is governed by a director and overseen by the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, who answers to the Secretary of the Interior.
In the United States, a special agent is an official term used to refer to an investigator or detective for a federal or state government or independent agency, who primarily serves in criminal investigatory positions. Additionally, many federal and state special agents operate in "criminal intelligence" based roles as well. Within the U.S. federal law enforcement system, dozens of federal agencies employ federal law enforcement officers, each with different criteria pertaining to the use of the titles Special Agent and Agent. These titles are also used by many state level agencies to refer to their personnel.
The Minerals Management Service (MMS) was an agency of the United States Department of the Interior that managed the nation's natural gas, oil and other mineral resources on the outer continental shelf (OCS).
The Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC) serves as an interagency law enforcement training body for 105 United States government federal law enforcement agencies. The stated mission of FLETC is to "...train those who protect our homeland". Through the Rural Policing Institute (RPI) and the Office of State and Local Training, it provides tuition-free and low-cost training to state, local, campus and tribal law enforcement agencies.
Executive Schedule is the system of salaries given to the highest-ranked appointed officials in the executive branch of the U.S. government. The president of the United States appoints individuals to these positions, most with the advice and consent of the United States Senate. They include members of the president's Cabinet, several top-ranking officials of each executive department, the directors of some of the more prominent departmental and independent agencies, and several members of the Executive Office of the President.
Allan K. Fitzsimmons is the Wildlands Fuel Coordinator at the United States Department of the Interior. This is a newly created position where he will coordinate and implement fuels treatment on lands managed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service.
The Office of Fiscal Service (OFS) is an agency of the United States federal government in the United States Department of the Treasury. The office is led by the Fiscal Assistant Secretary of the Treasury. The Fiscal Assistant Secretary reports to the United States Secretary of the Treasury through the Under Secretary of the Treasury for Domestic Finance.
The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board was an agency of the United States federal government, which managed the Recovery.gov website and oversaw spending under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Recovery.gov was the U.S. government’s official website that provided easy access to data related to Recovery Act spending and allowed for the reporting of potential fraud, waste, and abuse.
The Bureau of Energy Resources (ENR) is a bureau in the United States Department of State that coordinates the department's efforts in promoting international energy security. Under the purview of the Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment. the Bureau of Energy Resources' current head is Assistant Secretary Geoffrey R. Pyatt.
Wilma Antoinette Lewis is a United States district judge of the District Court of the Virgin Islands. She previously served as the first female United States Attorney for the District of Columbia.
The Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) is an appellate review body that exercises the delegated authority of the United States secretary of the interior to issue final decisions for the United States Department of the Interior.