AIMD-97-11R: Published: Dec 20, 1996. Publicly Released: Dec 20, 1996.
- Full Report:
Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Agriculture (USDA) Inspector General's (IG) report on the IG's audit of the Forest Service's financial statements for fiscal year (FY) 1995. GAO noted that: (1) in July 1996, the USDA IG reinforced concerns about inadequate stewardship over taxpayers' money appropriated to the Forest Service in concluding that the Forest Service's financial statements for FY 1995 were unreliable; (2) among the more serious shortcomings cited by the IG were that the Forest Service: (a) had significant reporting errors in its financial statements and the records that support those statements; (b) could not demonstrate that its policies and procedures adequately safeguarded assets against unauthorized acquisition, use, or disposition; and (c) lacked financial systems that could accurately track revenues and costs; (3) these shortcomings mean that the Forest Service and Congress do not have accurate financial statement data to help make informed decisions about future funding; (4) the inaccuracy of the financial statement data raises questions about program performance measures and certain budget data that are drawn from the same database; (5) Forest Service officials said the agency is acting to correct these reporting deficiencies by implementing new accounting systems; and (6) a working committee has been established to address these accounting and financial reporting problems, with separate subgroups formed to address problems identified by the IG.