Fisheries Management:

Administration of the Sport Fish Restoration Program

RCED-94-4: Published: Nov 8, 1993. Publicly Released: Dec 8, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS) Sport Fish Restoration Program, focusing on: (1) FWS management of program funds; (2) whether FWS use of program funds assists program goals; (3) whether states have adequately funded freshwater and marine projects; and (4) the extent to which states use program funding to restore and enhance fish habitat.

GAO found that: (1) FWS administrative and special investigation program costs have increased significantly since 1988; (2) although the majority of the cost deductions are due to new FWS deduction policies and offsetting deductions to fund two major studies, FWS cannot provide a sufficient basis for all the administrative cost deductions from the Sport Fish Restoration Account; (3) FWS cannot ensure that its special investigations are meeting program objectives because many special investigations do not follow established approval procedures; (4) FWS has not established program funding priorities that reflect states' needs; (5) FWS provides minimal oversight of approved projects; (6) four of the five states reviewed equitably distribute funds between freshwater and marine projects in accordance with legislative requirements; (7) one state that had difficulty in meeting its obligations ultimately provided the matching funds required; (8) the states' use of program funds to enhance fish habitat varies; and (9) there are not sufficient data to determine the total amount of program funding used for habitat-related projects.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FWS implemented a new budget review process to ensure that all headquarters and regional office budget proposals include documentation and justification for all direct administrative costs. In addition, FWS has implemented a new direct cost recovery policy that has resulted in a lower indirect cost assessment for the Sport Fish Restoration Program.

    Recommendation: To improve administration of the Sport Fish Restoration Program, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director, FWS, to require that FWS headquarters and regional offices thoroughly document and support all costs associated with the administration of the Sport Fish Restoration Program.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FWS reviewed initiatives funded under the Sport Fish Restoration Program to determine if the program was paying more than its fair share of the costs of such initiatives. On the basis of this review, funding for one initiative was terminated and other programs are being charged for services that benefit them.

    Recommendation: To improve administration of the Sport Fish Restoration Program, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director, FWS, to ensure that the costs of initiatives that benefit FWS or the Department of the Interior as a whole are equitably allocated among all applicable programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A revised review and approval policy for special investigations was published in the Federal Register on May 31, 1994. FWS' Manual will be revised to incorporate changes in the special investigations program. The revisions are scheduled to be completed by March 1995.

    Recommendation: To improve administration of the Sport Fish Restoration Program, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director, FWS, to ensure that: (1) established special investigation review-and-approval policies and procedures are followed; (2) priority needs of the states are considered when selecting special investigations to be funded; and (3) a monitoring system is established to track the progress of special investigations and ensure that the intended results of such investigations are attained and properly disseminated.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

 

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