Forest Service: Little Progress on Performance Accountability Likely Unless Management Addresses Key Challenges

GAO-03-503 Published: May 01, 2003. Publicly Released: Jun 02, 2003.
Jump To:
Skip to Highlights
Highlights

Historically, the Forest Service has not been able to provide Congress or the public with a clear understanding of what the Forest Service's 30,000 employees accomplish with the approximately $5 billion the agency receives every year. Since 1990, GAO has reported 7 times on performance accountability weaknesses at the Forest Service, including its inability to systematically link planning, budgeting, and results reporting. This report reviews the recent progress the Forest Service has made in resolving previously identified performance accountability problems and identifies key challenges the Forest Service must overcome to resolve these problems.

Skip to Recommendations

Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Agriculture To ensure progress in achieving performance accountability, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief of the Forest Service to appoint a senior executive with decision-making authority and responsibility for developing a comprehensive plan, with milestones, to ensure the timely implementation of an effective performance accountability system. This executive should be held accountable for ensuring that the Forest Service's performance accountability system clearly links the key components needed to manage for results--plans, performance measures, budgets, work activities, expenditures, and accomplishments.
Closed – Implemented
The Forest Service's Statement of Action (signed by the Secretary of Agriculture on October 10, 2003) affirmed that the Service appointed a senior executive with responsibility for developing a comprehensive plan with milestones to ensure timely implementation of an effective performance accountability system. The Statement of Action also noted that the Forest Service developed and published a comprehensive plan for implementing a performance accountability system.
Department of Agriculture To ensure progress in achieving performance accountability, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief of the Forest Service to appoint a senior executive with decision-making authority and responsibility for developing a comprehensive plan, with milestones, to ensure the timely implementation of an effective performance accountability system. This executive should be held accountable for meeting specific milestones for implementing the system.
Closed – Implemented
The Forest Service's Statement of Action (signed by the Secretary of Agriculture on October 10, 2003) affirmed the assignment of a senior executive with responsibility for developing a comprehensive plan with milestones to ensure timely implementation of an effective performance accountability system. However, the Statement of Action does not explicitly make this executive accountable for meeting specific milestones for implementing the system.
Department of Agriculture To ensure progress in achieving performance accountability, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief of the Forest Service to appoint a senior executive with decision-making authority and responsibility for developing a comprehensive plan, with milestones, to ensure the timely implementation of an effective performance accountability system. This executive should be held accountable for ensuring full implementation of the performance accountability system throughout all levels of the agency.
Closed – Implemented
The Forest Service's Statement of Action (signed by the Secretary of Agriculture on October 10, 2003) reaffirmed that a senior executive has been assigned with responsibility for developing a comprehensive plan with milestones to ensure timely implementation of an effective performance accountability system. However, the Statement of Action does not explicitly make the senior executive accountable for ensuring full implementation of the system throughout all levels of the agency.
Department of Agriculture The Secretary of Agriculture should also direct the Chief of the Forest Service to report, beginning in 2004, on the agency's (1) progress in implementing a performance accountability system and the additional milestones to be accomplished in the agency's annual performance plans and (2) accomplishments in implementing its performance accountability system in its annual performance report to the Congress.
Closed – Implemented
The Forest Service's Statement of Action (signed by the Secretary of Agriculture on October 10, 2003) states that the agency will submit its performance accountability plan as part of the fiscal year 2004 Annual Performance Plan to USDA, which will in turn submit it to OMB and Congress.

Full Report