Forest Service's Financial Data Limitations

RCED-96-198R: Published: Jun 19, 1996. Publicly Released: Jun 19, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Forest Service's management of the National Forest System, focusing on the costs and revenues of forest management activities for fiscal years 1992 through 1995. GAO noted that: (1) shortcomings in its accounting and financial information systems prevented the Forest Service from providing data on the costs of forest management activities; (2) the Service's cost accounting system does not link the costs incurred and revenues generated from various forest uses; (3) various weaknesses in the Service's financial management controls result in inaccurate and unreliable financial information and accounting codes that do not accurately assign or track all costs to each resource program; (4) the Service is developing a system to resolve its financial systems problems, link costs and revenues of management activities, and report forest management accomplishments; (5) the Service is identifying opportunities to increase efficiency and reduce costs within its existing statutory and regulatory authority and differences in laws and regulations that may complicate and delay its decisionmaking process; and (6) the Service needs to improve the reliability of its financial data.

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