Financial Management:

Forest Service Is Not Consistently Implementing Charge-as-Worked Cost Reporting

AFMD-90-50: Published: Jun 12, 1990. Publicly Released: Jun 12, 1990.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Jeffrey C. Steinhoff
(202) 512-9454
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Forest Service's actions to charge its accounts as worked rather than as budgeted in fiscal years (FY) 1988 and 1989.

GAO found that: (1) the Forest Service took a number of actions to implement the charged-as-worked policy, including directives, letters, memoranda, and revisions to its account coding structure; (2) such Service actions resulted in employees' strong awareness of the charged-as-worked policy and the need to properly charge costs; (3) Service employees believed that the policy was effective and had a positive impact on their work; (4) the Service experienced problems in implementing the charged-as-worked policy and comparing units' cost information, primarily because units used different work details, shared services, equipment costs, budget activity accounts, and categories of work; (5) the Service used practices that inhibited unit compliance with the charged-as-worked policy, and such practices hampered units' efforts to charge costs to the benefiting activities, resulting in inaccurate activity cost information; and (6) Service management controls for the charged-as-worked policy were inconsistently applied by units, unit adherence to the Service's corrective action varied by location, and the Service had not fully implemented further corrective action.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Forest Service requires that all management program reviews look at compliance with the charge-as-worked policy and, where corrective action is needed, develop an action plan. Manual update was issued in March 1992.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the Forest Service fully and consistently implements the charge-as-worked policy and accurately records and reports costs, the Chief, Forest Service, should ensure that management controls are consistently used by all units to monitor compliance with the charge-as-worked policy.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture: Forest Service

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Forest Service completed an analysis of the effects of this principle on September 29, 1992, and decided to continue the policy.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the Forest Service fully and consistently implements the charge-as-worked policy and accurately records and reports costs, the Chief, Forest Service, should consider eliminating the primary purpose principle.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture: Forest Service

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Field units were notified by letter that all funds must be entered into operating plans within 30 days of automation, and that the initial advice (President's budget) for allocating budgets to lower-level field units must be used.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the Forest Service fully and consistently implements the charge-as-worked policy and accurately records and reports costs, the Chief, Forest Service, should ensure the timely allocation of budgets to all levels of the Forest Service.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture: Forest Service

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Forest Service revised its reprogramming process for fiscal year 1991 on March 20, 1991, to provide one comprehensive adjustment annually as necessary to accomplish program targets established by Congress. This reprogramming process was based on financial results through April, 1991.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the Forest Service fully and consistently implements the charge-as-worked policy and accurately records and reports costs, the Chief, Forest Service, should ensure that reprogramming requirements and procedures do not interfere with charging as worked.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture: Forest Service

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Improved definitions and other changes have been incorporated into the Forest Service handbook, section 1309.16, effective March 31, 1992. Field units received a database update in July 1992.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the Forest Service fully and consistently implements the charge-as-worked policy and accurately records and reports costs, the Chief, Forest Service, should clarify definitions for work activity codes by providing descriptive examples so that work performed for similar activities is consistently charged to the same budget activity accounts.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture: Forest Service

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On September 30, 1992, the Forest Service issued detailed procedures to be followed by all units to ensure consistent treatment of costs incurred for work details, shared services, equipment use, computer services, and other costs.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the Forest Service fully and consistently implements the charge-as-worked policy and accurately records and reports costs, the Chief, Forest Service, should issue detailed procedures to be followed by all units to ensure consistent treatment of costs incurred for work details, shared services, equipment use, and computer services.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture: Forest Service

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Forest Service Senior Executive Service staff now include requirements for charge-as-worked. Similar requirements have been added to the performance standards of all line officer personnel effective May 14, 1991.

    Recommendation: To ensure that the Forest Service fully and consistently implements the charge-as-worked policy and accurately records and reports costs, the Chief, Forest Service, should ensure that the Chief's commitment to hold all line officers accountable for enforcing the charge-as-worked policy by including it as an element in performance contracts is enforced.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture: Forest Service

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Sep 20, 2016

Sep 6, 2016

Aug 19, 2016

Aug 12, 2016

Jul 29, 2016

Jul 28, 2016

Jul 13, 2016

Jul 11, 2016

Jun 13, 2016

Looking for more? Browse all our products here