Forest Service's Timber Sales Data

RCED-97-26R: Published: Nov 22, 1996. Publicly Released: Nov 22, 1996.

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Victor S. Rezendes
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed data on the competitiveness of timber sales in the national forests, focusing on the: (1) prices offered for timber; and (2) number of bidders participating in national forest timber sales. GAO noted that: (1) there is little computerized information available on timber sales, since some of the computerized tapes containing the needed data were accidentally erased; (2) the Forest Service is working to reconstruct the data files, but it will take some time to complete this service-wide effort; (3) the Forest Service's inability to readily provide accurate and complete information on the number of bidders taking part in timber sales is significant, since previous deficiencies were identified in its monitoring of the bidding process for theft or collusion; and (4) adequate financial and program data, internal controls, and performance measures are particularly critical given the highly decentralized nature of the agency and the autonomy of its forest managers.

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