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GAO analyzed 3,244 advertised timber sales made in four western Forest Service regions in fiscal year (FY) 1981 and 1982 to determine: (1) whether individual sales were being made below cost and, if so the general magnitude of this practice in terms of the number, amount of loss, and geographic location; (2) the justification for it; and (3) whether better data could be given to Congress.

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Matter for Congressional Consideration

Matter Status Comments
Congress should require the Secretary of Agriculture to revise the annual reporting to Congress on Forest Service activities to include an estimate of the number and volume of timber sales sold below cost, the amount lost on these sales, and the justification on a summary basis for making such sales.
Closed - Not Implemented
No bills were introduced in, or other actions taken by, the 99th Congress regarding this recommendation.

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Agriculture 1. The Secretary of Agriculture should require the Chief of the Forest Service to develop a capacity to systematically determine the costs to sell timber for all national forest timber sales and on a statistically valid basis compare these costs with the estimated value to be received from the sale.
Closed - Implemented
The Forest Service provided GAO with a draft of its Timber Sale Information System. GAO provided the House Appropriations Committee with an analysis of the system. In report AFMD-86-42, GAO outlined concerns about the system and concluded that it would not be fully responsive to a complete cost accounting system that would compare actual costs and benefits.

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