NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Forest Service Reportedly In Shambles

March 26, 1998

Both the management and accountability of the U.S. Forest Service are in "complete shambles," according to a report based on more than 100 papers from the General Accounting Office. The criticisms range from wasting millions of dollars while forests are being ruined to rangers painting newly exposed rocks to make them look old.

Here are some of the accusations leveled in the congressional report:

  • The agency could not account for $215 million of its $3.4 billion operating and program budget in fiscal year 1996 -- and the GAO found "significant reporting errors."
  • Tilting politically to the left, the service recently developed a communications plan aimed at winning favorable media coverage of Vice President Al Gore during his trips to forest fires next summer.
  • The Forest Service spent $500,000 on a New Age "alternative-reality" rally last year.
  • To meet affirmative-action goals, the agency released job-opening announcements in recent years that advised "only unqualified applicants may apply."

When the Forest Service declared a moratorium on road building in the forests in January, some Republicans threatened to downsize the agency into a "custodial" service, with no real authority over forest policy. The agency -- which lost money on its timber program last year for the first time -- has requested a $43 million budget increase.

The agency's management and financial woes will be the focus of an unprecedented joint oversight hearing today under the auspices of the House Appropriations, Budget and Resources committees.

Source: Valerie Richardson, "Report Goes Very Hard on Forest Service," Washington Times, March 26, 1998.


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