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Highlights

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO assessed the Forest Service's plans to acquire a $1.2-billion computer-based geographic information system (GIS) for its field sites nationwide.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Agriculture 1. In order to reduce the risk that GIS may not satisfy mission needs, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief, Forest Service, to evaluate the feasibility, costs, benefits, and organizational impact of alternatives, including selective placement of GIS capabilities and associated analytical resources, to achieve mission-based objectives. The Service should demonstrate that the benefits of the selected alternative exceed projected costs.
Closed - Implemented
The Forest Service revised its feasibility and benefit/cost analyses with the assistance of MITRE Corp. and has satisfactorily addressed GAO concerns in these areas. In particular, the Service has: (1) assessed the feasibility of selective placement of GIS technology; and (2) shown that the cost of the acquisition is less than the cost it would incur to meet congressional and judicial mandates.
Department of Agriculture 2. In order to reduce the risk that GIS may not satisfy mission needs, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief, Forest Service, to develop a more comprehensive functional requirements analysis that includes sources, flow, timing, accuracy levels, validation, and performance requirements for processing a complete range of data that include planned as well as existing data sources.
Closed - Implemented
The Forest Service has satisfactorily revised its functional requirements analysis to address GAO concerns about the lack of data and performance requirements. The Service also revised this analysis and its draft request for proposals to avoid specifying an unnecessarily restrictive technical solution to its needs.

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