Forest Service:

Status of Efforts to Achieve Cost Efficiency

RCED-94-185FS: Published: Apr 26, 1994. Publicly Released: Apr 26, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Forest Service's progress in reducing the costs of its timber program, focusing on: (1) the status of the Washington Office's actions as of March 31, 1994; (2) regional results; and (3) other Forest Service initiatives to improve program efficiency.

GAO found that: (1) the Service has reduced the costs of its timber program by about 7.2 percent; (2) the Washington Office has made progress toward completing 21 of the 23 actions targeted for completion by October 1993 or 1994; (3) six of the nine Service regions showed a decline in total annual timber program expenses, but six regions' timber sales programs showed a net loss for fiscal year 1993; (4) regional cost efficiency efforts vary and include consolidating related activities at the district level, raising minimum timber sales rates, phasing out commercial timber sales on below-cost forests, and ensuring that each forest resource pays its fair share of administrative expenses; and (5) the Service has undertaken other initiatives to improve program efficiency such as reviewing its organizational structure, mission, and geographical needs, testing land stewardship contracts, downsizing, budget restructuring, and adopting task force recommendations on accountability.

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