Forest Service:

Indirect Expenditures Charged to Five Funds

T-RCED-98-214: Published: Jun 4, 1998. Publicly Released: Jun 4, 1998.

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GAO discussed the indirect support activities associated with five Forest Service funds.

GAO noted that: (1) the Forest Service's records show that indirect expenditures for the five funds appear to have increased significantly between 1993 and 1997, while total expenditures for these funds increased by a minor amount; (2) as a result, indirect expenditures as a percentage of total expenditures increased from 16 percent to 27 percent between 1993 and 1997; (3) however, the relationship between indirect expenditures and total expenditures varied greatly from fund to fund and from region to region; (4) while GAO is still in the process of analyzing the data, it has identified several limitations in the data that may affect the extent to which overall conclusions may be drawn; (5) for example, although the Forest Service provides general guidance on what should be considered indirect expenditures, regions have flexibility in how to apply this guidance and therefore may differ in what they have decided to include; (6) moreover, in 1994, the Forest Service added a category of indirect support activities, so 1993 data may not be comparable to later years'; and (7) GAO expects that its ongoing work will provide some insight about whether or not the changes in expenditures reflect programmatic changes or simply result from unreliable financial systems.

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