Timber Sale Accounting:

Analysis of Forest Service's Proposed Timber Program Information Reporting System

AFMD-86-42: Published: Apr 4, 1986. Publicly Released: Sep 11, 1986.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Forest Service's development of a timber cost accounting system to: (1) evaluate whether system development activities were proceeding adequately; and (2) determine whether the system would be complete and allow for comparison of actual costs and benefits.

GAO found that, rather than develop a cost accounting system, the Service proposed a Timber Sale Program Information Reporting System that would use data from its existing accounting system to develop reports on timber sales and costs. GAO believes that the proposed system would not be fully responsive to a conference report directive for a complete timber cost accounting system because: (1) the system may not account for all costs; (2) the existing system may not provide accurate cost information; (3) the proposed methods will not conform with government accounting principles and standards in all key respects and could result in distorted cost reporting; (4) the level of accounting may not provide sufficient detail for Congress and the Service to manage the timber sales program; and (5) the methods for calculating benefits have not been specified and accurate forest-use data on which to base the computations are not available in all cases. GAO believes that redefining certain system elements and then integrating the timber sale management and accounting systems would contribute to better program management.

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