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The Forest Service requested a decision concerning the use of appropriated funds to pay the cost of fighting forest fires during fiscal year (FY) 1987. GAO held that: (1) the Forest Service could use all of the appropriated funds available within its 2-year appropriation limit to cover the fire-fighting deficit, as long as it did not exceed its total lump-sum appropriation; (2) although Congress provided a certain amount of the FY 1988 appropriation for liquidating fire-fighting obligations incurred in the previous year, the Forest Service could use more than that amount; and (3) the Forest Service could repay the funds advanced to it from a special trust fund, even though regulations did not mandate such repayments. Accordingly, the Forest Service could cover fire-fighting expenses with its appropriation.

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