Forest Service:

Indirect Expenditures Charged to Five Funds

RCED-98-164R: Published: May 6, 1998. Publicly Released: Jun 5, 1998.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on expenditures for indirect support activities by five Forest Service funds between fiscal years (FY) 1993 and 1997. GAO did not analyze the reasons for changes in expenditures over the period.

GAO noted that: (1) several limitations with the data affect the extent to which conclusions can be drawn; (2) regions have flexibility in deciding how to include indirect expenditures and how they should be applied; (3) such region-to-region differences affect both the aggregated data and the comparability of data from location to location; (4) GAO's analysis does not capture indirect expenditures that regions may have placed in other accounts; (5) year-to-year comparisons may be affected somewhat because the Forest Service changed the coding requirements for indirect expenditures between FY 1993 and FY 1994; (6) Forest Service officials stated that some of the increases in indirect expenditures probably resulted from changes they made to correct prior inaccuracies, inconsistencies, or inequities that occurred when charging these expenditures to the funds; and (7) GAO continues to have concerns about the reliability of the Forest Service's financial information in general.

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