From the Office of the Oregon Secretary of State
SALEM — A widening gap between responsibilities and resources has made meeting agency goals increasingly difficult for Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). According to an audit released today by the Secretary of State’s office, a steady decline in the number of hunters and anglers and a widening gap between responsibilities and resources require ODFW to establish a comprehensive management strategy that will focus the agency’s work.
“This audit highlights many of the challenges facing the Department of Fish and Wildlife in the 21st century,” said Secretary of State Jeanne P. Atkins. “ODFW needs more than short-term solutions that simply put off difficult policy decisions for the agency and the Legislature. They need to adopt a long-term strategy that protects habitat and provides Oregonians with recreational opportunities for hunting, angling, and wildlife viewing.”
Like other natural resource agencies across the nation, ODFW is facing difficult challenges. Staff struggle with their workloads due to rising expectations, lack of resources, and little strategic direction. The agency is also facing at least $90 million in unaddressed maintenance costs, higher pension expenses, and increasing workloads. The agency can be drawn in many different directions by various state and federal directives and individual stakeholders. Oregon has had some success in enhancing support of fish and wildlife activities within the state, but that support is not stable.
“Oregonians cherish our rich variety of fish and wildlife,” said Secretary Atkins. “We all want to be good stewards of our natural resources. They are vital to our cultural heritage and economy. Given our changing world, Oregon must be more proactive to ensure these resources are available to future generations. ”
Today’s report recommends agency leadership develop and implement a long-term comprehensive management strategy, including a holistic process to identify key priorities and align workload responsibilities with existing resources and priorities. The agency should pay particular attention to internal communication, goal setting, alignment of workload to mission critical responsibilities and resources, succession planning, and calculating the full cost of service delivery, including the cost to maintain existing facilities. Secretary Atkins also urges the Legislature to support this long term planning vision and be willing to evaluate the priorities they set for the agency.
Today’s report follows an earlier Secretary of State financial condition review released in April 2015. At that time, a review of ODFW’s financial health found a recurring cash flow problem that has repeatedly put the agency’s financial health at risk. Although budget shortfalls have been addressed, in part, by fee increases, these and other solutions have not been able to address the underlying nature of this problem.