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Federal Land Management: Observations on a Possible Move of the Forest Service into the Department of the Interior

GAO-09-223 Published: Feb 11, 2009. Publicly Released: Feb 24, 2009.
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Growing ecological challenges ranging from wildland fires to climate change have revived interest in moving the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Forest Service into the Department of the Interior (Interior). The Forest Service manages almost a quarter of the nation's lands but is the only major land management agency outside Interior. GAO was asked to report on the potential effects of moving the Forest Service into Interior and creating a new bureau equal to Interior's other bureaus, such as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). GAO was also asked to identify factors that should be considered if such a move were legislated and management practices that could facilitate a move. GAO analyzed five historical proposals to reorganize federal land management agencies; interviewed USDA, Interior, and other officials and outside experts; and studied joint Forest Service- BLM programs to assess efforts to integrate the agencies' work.

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Agency missionsAgricultural programsCost analysisFacility managementFederal agenciesFederal agency reorganizationFederal property managementForest managementLand managementMission essential operationsProductivity in governmentProgram evaluationProgram managementPublic landsReorganizationRisk assessmentRisk factors