Forest Service's Region 5 Should Consider Less Costly Ways To Meet Word and Data Processing Needs

CED-81-15: Published: Oct 23, 1980. Publicly Released: Oct 31, 1980.

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GAO reviewed the procurement of word processing equipment carried out during 1979 by the Forest Service's Pacific Southwest Region. At the time, the regional office and 10 of the region's national forest offices leased advanced word processing capability for 2 years. Another four national forest offices leased equipment with only word processing capability. The advanced equipment was acquired to develop a regional network integrating communications with the equipment's word and data processing capabilities to support mission requirements. The annual rental and maintenance costs for the leased equipment are about $1.4 million.

Although the equipment is providing benefits, GAO found the procurement to be unnecessarily costly. The review disclosed that the region in question: (1) prepared a feasibility study of equipment alternatives that did not adequately support the data processing requirements or the procurement alternative selected; (2) leased the equipment even though its lease-versus-purchase analysis showed that purchasing the equipment was more economical because it did not want to request a waiver from a Washington office directive freezing purchases; and (3) did not comply with federal procurement policy, which requires that full consideration be given to consolidating individual small-volume orders and that competitive procurement procedures be used whenever feasible to obtain the lowest possible price.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Forest Service to conduct an economic analysis of alternatives available to Region 5 that could meet its requirements at a cost lower than its present leasing arrangement.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

  2. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Department of Agriculture should direct the Forest Service to conduct a postinstallation review to measure the cost effectiveness of the Pacific Southwest Region systems, including both word and data processing capabilities, after 6 months of operation.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

 

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