The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) was created under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA), Public Law 95-87, to administer programs for controlling the impacts of surface coal mining operations. Among the numerous responsibilities of OSM are assisting the States in developing and implementing programs for surface coal mining and reclamation operations to achieve the purposes of the Act.
On October 1, 1987, OSM began distributing computer hardware and software to the States, Indian tribes, and OSM offices in the coal-producing states to meet technical and programmatic needs in developing decision-making processes enabling objective decisions based on competent and scientifically sound data. OSM created the Technical Information Processing System (TIPS) Technical Task Force on February 26, 1988 and delegated authority to TIPS to meet this nationally important agency objective. On July 22, 1991, OSM issued Directive INF-12 to provide guidance for TIPS.
Today, TIPS is the Technical Innovation and Professional Services component of OSM. TIPS provides specialized hardware, scientific software, customized software training, and technical assistance to its user community. TIPS helps strengthen the capabilities of States, Tribes, and OSM staff to enforce SMCRA through quality technical expertise and assistance, scientific information, and training. TIPS supports and enhances the technical skills that States, Tribes, and OSM offices need to operate their regulatory and reclamation programs to effectively implement the Surface Mining Act.
TIPS provides direct technical assistance to address specific mining and reclamation problems, maintaining automated systems and databases used by others in making decisions under SMCRA, and transferring technical capability to others through training, consultations, forums, and conferences to help them develop the skills needed for solving problems on their own. The success of TIPS helps OSM fulfill its mission to ensure that coal mines are operated in a manner that protects citizens and the environment during mining, assure that the land is restored to beneficial use following mining, and mitigate the effects of past mining by aggressively pursuing reclamation of abandoned coal mine lands.
TIPS has a true partnership with its customers. The TIPS Steering Committee was established in 1987 to guide the efforts and is composed of members from state, tribal, and OSM offices. State and tribal representatives are appointed by the Interstate Mining Compact Commission and the Western Interstate Energy Board. With a Steering Committee composed of TIPS customer representatives, TIPS is able to directly address the concerns and needs of its customers. Each year the Committee meets to discuss the accomplishments of TIPS and decide where to direct future efforts. OSM’s Western Regional Director serves as the Committee Chairman and reports the Committee’s recommendations to OSM’s Core Leadership Team.