Forest Service's 'End-Results' Budget Tests and Implementation of the Timber Cost Accounting System

T-AFMD-88-10: Published: Apr 14, 1988. Publicly Released: Apr 14, 1988.

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GAO discussed Forest Service actions to: (1) test an end-results budgeting procedure; and (2) implement a new accounting system for timber sales in national forests. GAO found that: (1) the Service proposed a streamlined budget structure to receive funds through appropriation line items and output targets; (2) this would allow forest managers to link their plans with daily operations and make necessary operational adjustments; (3) although the proposal would allow the Service to spend funds within consolidated budget line items without congressional approval, it would require the Service to continue to request authority to reprogram funds between line items and when there were significant decreases in output targets within a line item; (4) the Service believes that a 2-year availability of appropriations would better aid it in carrying out its programs; and (5) the Service tested its timber cost-accounting system in 11 forests in fiscal year 1988, with full implementation scheduled for October 1, 1988. GAO believes that: (1) the Service should continue to develop better records of its timber program costs and improve accounting for its other program costs; and (2) Congress may wish to allow the Service to continue testing its end-results budgeting ideas on a servicewide basis.

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