A new report by the Inspector General (IG) for the Department of the Interior calls for the prioritization of management of museum collections within the department.  The report, which outlines major management and performance challenges facing Interior, reflects “what the Office of Inspector General considers significant impediments to the Department’s efforts to promote economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in its bureaus’ management and operations.”  Collections management is included within “resource protection and management,” which is one of eight broad priorities outlined in the report.

The recommendation to improve accessioning, cataloging, and inventorying of Interior collections was first made in an IG report in December 2009.  The IG “found that DOI is failing to fulfill its stewardship responsibilities over museum collections,” due to “poor program management, ineffective oversight, poor reporting, and an insufficient allocation of resources.”  The ongoing nature of these problems, many of which have been documented for twenty years, makes collections unavailable to researchers and the public, and has left artifacts and specimens subject to theft and deterioration.  Despite some progress by the Department of the Interior over the past 11 months, the department has not yet fully implemented the 13 recommendations made by the IG.

DOI is the second largest holder of museum collections, with an estimated 146 million artifacts and pieces of artwork at 625 DOI facilities and at more than 1,000 non-DOI facilities.  Interior’s collections are comprised mostly of documents (60 percent) and archeological objects (35 percent).

To download the IG report, visit http://www.doioig.gov/images/stories/reports/pdf/X-SP-MOI-0008-2010%20Performance%20Challenges.pdf.  For more coverage on the December 2009 IG report, visit http://nscalliance.org/?p=235.