Information on the Forest Service Road Construction Program

RCED-84-99: Published: Feb 14, 1984. Publicly Released: Feb 17, 1984.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO provided information regarding: (1) suggestions for improving the Forest Service's presentation and justification of its road construction budget; and (2) data on the Forest Service's recently revised guidelines and road construction standards.

The Forest Service has traditionally presented its road construction appropriation budget request as one line item, lump sum dollar request. In response to congressional concern over the lack of information provided, its fiscal year 1984 budget displayed the functional categories into which the appropriated funds would be allocated. GAO suggested a further revision of the budget presentation that would require the agency to divide the budget request between certain functional categories and assign an appropriate dollar amount to each category. The dollar amount for each category would then be subdivided between the principal uses of the requested appropriations. Using this format, the agency would be in a position to supplement this information with data that would compare the intended use with the actual use of the funds which would assist agency officials in providing a more meaningful explanation of the use of program funds. In September 1982, the Forest Service issued revised policy and guidelines for the design of forest development roads and its technical handbook dealing with forest road design. It also began testing a value analysis technique to identify cost-effective alternatives in its road construction program; however, it is too early to evaluate the economic merits of the actions.

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