Tongass National Forest:

Contractual Modification Requirements of the Tongass Timber Reform Act

RCED-91-133: Published: Mar 28, 1991. Publicly Released: Mar 28, 1991.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the Department of Agriculture's compliance with the Tongass Timber Reform Act, focusing on the implementation of modifications to two long-term timber sale contracts to eliminate the contractors' competitive advantage over independent short-term contractors.

GAO found that: (1) the Forest Service made extensive revisions to the two long-term timber sale contracts, generally by adopting and modifying provisions from independent short-term timber sale contracts to meet the act's requirements; (2) all modifications to the long-term contracts, except purchaser road credits, complied with the act's requirements; and (3) the modifications did not specify how the Service would perform environmental assessments or how large an area they would cover. GAO believes that: (1) although the contract modifications did not specify exactly how the Service would implement them, the modifications will require extensive additional effort on the part of the Service; and (2) the manner in which the Service implements the modifications will determine its compliance with the act's requirements.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Forest Service does not agree with the recommendation, maintaining that the changes GAO suggests are not required by the statute.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief, Forest Service, to make the contract modifications in purchaser road credits necessary to preclude the carrying forward of certain credits from one offering to another.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Forest Service does not agree with the recommendation. The Forest Service issued the report required by section 301(e) on May 8, 1992. The report did not include additions recommended by GAO.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief, Forest Service, to add to the study required by section 301(e) a detailed description of the manner in which the Service will implement each requirement of section 301(c). In addition, the Secretary of Agriculture should include in the study an assessment of how the implementation actions would achieve the objectives of the act.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

 

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