The General Accounting Office once again told the U.S. Forest Service what it was doing wrong. It took 12 pages.
For more than a decade, the investigative
arm of Congress has issued dozens of reports telling the Forest
Service how to do a better job. Always, the Forest Service pledges
to do better. But in last month's report, investigators said the
agency still hasn't heeded GAO advice that would save taxpayers
millions of dollars.
revenue, inefficiency and waste, increased vulnerability to fraud
and abuse and lack of financial and performance accountability
indicate to us that the American public is not receiving a fair
return for its annual investment in the Forest Service," the GAO
Relatively simple policy changes could
save the service $50 million a year:
agency could begin to charge fair-market value for the
rights-of-way for pipelines and communication and power lines that
cross its lands.
* The agency could stop taking
oral bids on certain timber sales and switch to sealed bids, which
generate higher prices.
The report also points a
finger at Forest Service accountants for failing to know how $215
million of a $3.4 billion budget was spent.
Finally, back in 1980, the GAO asked the agency to inventory the
national forests' natural resources because "without such an
inventory, forest plans were bound to be inadequate." Because
inventories remain unfinished, the Forest Service admits that
forest plans are sometimes delayed two years or
The report can be read at http://