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Highlights

Annual appropriations to prepare for and respond to wildland fires have increased substantially over the past decade, in recent years totaling about $3 billion. The Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture and four agencies within the Department of the Interior (Interior) are responsible for responding to wildland fires on federal lands. GAO determined what steps federal agencies have taken, in response to findings from previous studies, to (1) address key operational areas that could help contain the costs of preparing for and responding to wildland fires and (2) improve their management of their cost-containment efforts. To address these objectives, GAO reviewed previous cost-containment studies and other agency documents and interviewed agency officials.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Agriculture Without clear goals and a strategy for containing wildland fire costs, the agencies are unable to effectively and efficiently manage their myriad ongoing efforts to contain wildland fire costs. Thus, to help manage these efforts and to assist Congress in its oversight role, the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior should work together to direct their respective agencies to establish clearly defined goals and measurable objectives for containing wildland fire costs. Because of the importance of these actions and continuing concerns about the agencies' response to the increasing cost of wildland fires--and so that the agencies can use the results of these actions to prepare for the 2008 fire season--the agencies should provide this information to Congress no later than November 2007.
Closed - Not Implemented
We discussed this recommendation with the Forest Service in March 2011. They had not implemented this recommendation and did not expect to make further progress on it.
Department of the Interior Without clear goals and a strategy for containing wildland fire costs, the agencies are unable to effectively and efficiently manage their myriad ongoing efforts to contain wildland fire costs. Thus, to help manage these efforts and to assist Congress in its oversight role, the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior should work together to direct their respective agencies to establish clearly defined goals and measurable objectives for containing wildland fire costs. Because of the importance of these actions and continuing concerns about the agencies' response to the increasing cost of wildland fires--and so that the agencies can use the results of these actions to prepare for the 2008 fire season--the agencies should provide this information to Congress no later than November 2007.
Closed - Not Implemented
We discussed this recommendation with DOI in March 2011. They had not implemented this recommendation and did not expect to make further progress on it.
Department of Agriculture Without clear goals and a strategy for containing wildland fire costs, the agencies are unable to effectively and efficiently manage their myriad ongoing efforts to contain wildland fire costs. Thus, to help manage these efforts and to assist Congress in its oversight role, the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior should work together to direct their respective agencies to develop a strategy to achieve these goals and objectives. Because of the importance of these actions and continuing concerns about the agencies' response to the increasing cost of wildland fires--and so that the agencies can use the results of these actions to prepare for the 2008 fire season--the agencies should provide this information to Congress no later than November 2007.
Closed - Not Implemented
We discussed this recommendation with the Forest Service in March 2011. They had not implemented this recommendation and did not expect to make further progress on it.
Department of the Interior Without clear goals and a strategy for containing wildland fire costs, the agencies are unable to effectively and efficiently manage their myriad ongoing efforts to contain wildland fire costs. Thus, to help manage these efforts and to assist Congress in its oversight role, the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior should work together to direct their respective agencies to develop a strategy to achieve these goals and objectives. Because of the importance of these actions and continuing concerns about the agencies' response to the increasing cost of wildland fires--and so that the agencies can use the results of these actions to prepare for the 2008 fire season--the agencies should provide this information to Congress no later than November 2007.
Closed - Not Implemented
We discussed this recommendation with DOI in March 2011. They had not implemented this recommendation and did not expect to make further progress on it.
Department of Agriculture Without clear goals and a strategy for containing wildland fire costs, the agencies are unable to effectively and efficiently manage their myriad ongoing efforts to contain wildland fire costs. Thus, to help manage these efforts and to assist Congress in its oversight role, the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior should work together to direct their respective agencies to establish performance measures that are aligned with these goals and objectives. Because of the importance of these actions and continuing concerns about the agencies' response to the increasing cost of wildland fires--and so that the agencies can use the results of these actions to prepare for the 2008 fire season--the agencies should provide this information to Congress no later than November 2007.
Closed - Not Implemented
We discussed this recommendation with the Forest Service in March 2011. They had not implemented this recommendation and did not expect to make further progress on it.
Department of the Interior Without clear goals and a strategy for containing wildland fire costs, the agencies are unable to effectively and efficiently manage their myriad ongoing efforts to contain wildland fire costs. Thus, to help manage these efforts and to assist Congress in its oversight role, the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior should work together to direct their respective agencies to establish performance measures that are aligned with these goals and objectives. Because of the importance of these actions and continuing concerns about the agencies' response to the increasing cost of wildland fires--and so that the agencies can use the results of these actions to prepare for the 2008 fire season--the agencies should provide this information to Congress no later than November 2007.
Closed - Not Implemented
We discussed this recommendation with DOI in March 2011. They had not implemented this recommendation and did not expect to make further progress on it.
Department of Agriculture Without clear goals and a strategy for containing wildland fire costs, the agencies are unable to effectively and efficiently manage their myriad ongoing efforts to contain wildland fire costs. Thus, to help manage these efforts and to assist Congress in its oversight role, the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior should work together to establish a framework to ensure that officials are held accountable for achieving these goals and objectives. Because of the importance of these actions and continuing concerns about the agencies' response to the increasing cost of wildland fires--and so that the agencies can use the results of these actions to prepare for the 2008 fire season--the agencies should provide this information to Congress no later than November 2007.
Closed - Not Implemented
We discussed this recommendation with the Forest Service in March 2011. They had not implemented this recommendation and did not expect to make further progress on it.
Department of the Interior Without clear goals and a strategy for containing wildland fire costs, the agencies are unable to effectively and efficiently manage their myriad ongoing efforts to contain wildland fire costs. Thus, to help manage these efforts and to assist Congress in its oversight role, the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior should work together to establish a framework to ensure that officials are held accountable for achieving these goals and objectives. Because of the importance of these actions and continuing concerns about the agencies' response to the increasing cost of wildland fires--and so that the agencies can use the results of these actions to prepare for the 2008 fire season--the agencies should provide this information to Congress no later than November 2007.
Closed - Not Implemented
We discussed this recommendation with DOI in March 2011. They had not implemented this recommendation and did not expect to make further progress on it.

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