A coalition representing 35,000 real estate appraisers, led by the Appraisal Institute, has called on the U.S. Department of the Interior to follow its own Inspector General’s direction to hire a chief appraiser. The Appraisal Institute, the nation’s largest organization of real estate appraisers, was joined by the American Society of Appraisers, the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, and the National Association of Independent Fee Appraisers in asking Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to select a “strong and competent chief appraiser … to lead further change within ASD (Appraisal Services Directorate) and to provide a single point of contact, offer sound judgment and have final decision authority on appraisal matters,” as the Inspector General’s report said. In a letter to Salazar, the four appraiser organizations wrote: “Our organizations believe appraisal issues are extremely complex, and the importance of the appraisal function must be elevated within the Department. It is critical for the appraisal function to be lead by a technically competent appraiser.” The Inspector General’s report noted the chief appraiser vacated the position in 2006 and that it has not been filled by a fully qualified senior executive for nearly three years. “Unfortunately, this lack of consistent, competent, and empowered leadership remains to date as the Department decided not to proceed with the selection of a new ASD Chief Appraiser in June 2009,” the report stated. “Without the presence of a strong Chief Appraiser as lead, ASD cannot become a strong appraisal organization and cannot work to enforce policy directives …” The New York Times reported: “The Interior Department office created to oversee billions of dollars of land appraisals is weak and undermined by other bureaus, leaving it unable to function efficiently, the Interior inspector general has found. … Over the past four years, Interior's appraisers have been responsible for the valuation of nearly eight million acres of land worth almost $10 billion, the report says.” To view the four appraiser organizations’ Jan. 7 letter to the Interior Department, click here. To review the Inspector General’s Dec. 23 report, click here. For more information, visit www.appraisalinstitute.org.