Forest Service:

Issues Relating to Its Decisionmaking Process

T-RCED-96-66: Published: Jan 25, 1996. Publicly Released: Jan 25, 1996.

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GAO discussed the Forest Service's process for developing forest management plans and reaching project-level decisions. GAO noted that: (1) the Forest Service often cannot achieve its objectives because changing natural conditions, new requirements and information, and funding levels affect the outcomes of its decisions; (2) the Forest Service has proposed removing some of its objectives from forest service plans, but such action would not likely be approved by Congress; (3) the Forest Service spends over $250 million annually conducting environmental analyses to support its project-level decisions in order to comply with environmental laws; (4) a Forest Service reengineering team has identified inefficiencies within the Service's decision-making process and has made recommendations to reduce costs and improve timeliness; and (5) Forest Service officials believe that the agency's statutory framework complicates the decisionmaking process because of difficulties reconciling differences among regulatory standards, the fragmentation of authority among various agencies, and insufficient guidance.

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