Timber Sale Accounting:

Analysis of Kootenai National Forest

AFMD-86-62BR: Published: Jun 6, 1986. Publicly Released: Jul 7, 1986.

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In response to congressional requests, GAO conducted a follow-up review on its previous report concerning the Forest Service's Timber Sales Program Information Reporting System.

After reviewing the Forest Service's revised system proposal, GAO found that it understated the Kootenai National Forest's costs by approximately $4.6 million due to errors, cost exclusions, and basic flaws in the proposed system. The system: (1) excluded the costs of locating forest boundaries and the payments to state governments for schools and roads, and used average costs rather than actual costs in one case; (2) collected estimated labor costs rather than actual costs; (3) understated depreciation expenses for roads; (4) did not issue accounting reports that flowed from the controlled records of the Service's formal accounting system, as the federal government required; (5) aggregated costs at the forest level while management occurred at the district level, diminishing the opportunity for managing and controlling sales; (6) calculated economic benefits with erroneous data; and (7) improperly included direct, indirect, and induced income data in its financial report.

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