oversight

The Results Act: Observations on the Forest Service's May 1997 Draft Plan

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-07-31.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                    United States General Accounting Office

GAO                 Testimony
                    Before the Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health,
                    Committee on Resources, House of Representatives




For Release
on Delivery
Expected at
                    THE RESULTS ACT
10:00 a.m. EDT
Thursday
July 31, 1997
                    Observations on the Forest
                    Service’s May 1997 Draft
                    Plan
                    Statement of Barry T. Hill, Associate Director,
                    Energy, Resources, and Science Issues,
                    Resources, Community, and Economic
                    Development Division




GAO/T-RCED-97-223
    Madam Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:

    We are pleased to be here today to discuss the implementation of the
    Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (often referred to as the
    Results Act or GPRA) within the Department of Agriculture’s Forest
    Service. My testimony today will discuss (1) the need to hold the Forest
    Service accountable for its performance; (2) the importance of
    agreed-upon, long-term strategic goals to the successful implementation of
    the act and the reasons for the current lack of agreement on these goals;
    and (3) our observations on how the Forest Service can improve critical
    components, including the strategic goals component, of its draft plan to
    make it more informative and useful to the Congress and other
    stakeholders.

    To comply with the requirements of the Results Act, Agriculture submitted
    a draft strategic plan to the Congress in May 1997. Agriculture’s draft
    strategic plan includes a Department-wide strategic overview, as well as 30
    component mission area, subagency, and staff office plans, including one
    for the Forest Service. My comments today are based primarily on our
    April 29, 1997, report on the agency’s decision-making1 and our July 10,
    1997, report on Agriculture’s draft strategic plan.2 In our decision-making
    report, we conclude that the Results Act, if implemented successfully, will
    strengthen the Forest Service’s accountability for performance and results
    and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its decision-making. In our
    report on Agriculture’s draft strategic plan we conclude that, overall, the
    plan does not fulfill the requirements of the Results Act.

    My comments are limited to the Forest Service’s plan and to the agency’s
    management of the 155 forests that make up the National Forest System.
    They do not address the Forest Service’s other programs, including forest
    research, state and private forestry, and international forestry, which are
    also covered by the Forest Service’s plan.

    In summary, Madam Chairman:

•   Our report on the Forest Service’s decision-making identifies an
    organizational culture of indifference toward accountability. The agency’s
    historically decentralized management and recently increased flexibility in
    fiscal decision-making have not been accompanied by sufficient
    accountability for expenditures and performance. As a result, inefficiency

    1
     Forest Service Decision-Making: A Framework for Improving Performance (GAO/RCED-97-71).
    2
     USDA’s Strategic Plan (GAO/RCED-97-196R, July 10, 1997).



    Page 1                                                                   GAO/T-RCED-97-223
                         and waste have cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, and
                         opportunities for both ecological and economic gains have been lost
                         through indecision and delay. Past efforts by the Forest Service to change
                         its behavior have not been successful. Decision-making within the agency
                         is broken and in need of repair.
                     •   The Results Act, if implemented successfully, should help break the
                         existing cycle of inefficiency within the Forest Service. The strategic goals
                         in the Forest Service’s plan form the starting point and foundation for
                         holding the agency accountable for its performance. Hence, these goals
                         are critical to successfully implementing the act within the agency.
                         However, agreement has not been reached on the strategic goals in the
                         Forest Service’s plan. This lack of agreement reflects the controversy, both
                         inside and outside the Forest Service, over (1) which uses to emphasize
                         under the agency’s broad multiple-use and sustained-yield mandate and
                         (2) which management approach can best ensure the long-term
                         sustainability of legislatively mandated uses on the national forests. As a
                         result, the agency cannot begin to derive the benefits anticipated from
                         implementing the act.
                     •   The consultations with the Congress prescribed by the Results Act provide
                         an opportunity for the Forest Service to better explain (1) its rationale for
                         emphasizing some legislatively mandated uses on the national forests
                         more than other uses, (2) the logic underlying its approach to managing
                         natural resources, and (3) the likely effects of its policy choices on the
                         types, levels, and mixes of uses on its lands. However, the Forest Service’s
                         plan is silent on these issues.


                         Laws guiding the management of the 155 national forests require the
Background               Forest Service to manage its lands under the principles of multiple use and
                         sustained yield to meet the diverse needs of the American people. Under
                         these principles, the Forest Service is required to manage its lands to
                         provide high levels of six renewable surface uses—outdoor recreation,
                         rangeland, timber, watersheds and water flows, wilderness, and wildlife
                         and fish—to current users while sustaining undiminished the lands’ ability
                         to produce these uses for future generations. In addition, the Forest
                         Service’s guidance and regulations require the agency to consider
                         nonrenewable subsurface resources—such as oil, gas, and hardrock
                         minerals—in its planning efforts.

Strategic Planning       The Forest Service has prepared two draft plans—one in May 1997 under
                         the Results Act and another in October 1995 to comply with the




                         Page 2                                                     GAO/T-RCED-97-223
requirements of the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning
Act of 1974 (known as RPA).

The Results Act is intended to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of
federal programs by establishing a system to set goals for the programs’
performance and to measure results. Specifically, the act requires
executive departments and agencies to prepare multiyear strategic plans,
annual performance plans, and annual performance reports.

As a starting point, the act requires virtually every executive department
and agency to develop a strategic plan covering a period that extends at
least 5 years beyond the fiscal year in which it is submitted. These
strategic plans are to include six critical components: (1) a comprehensive
statement of the department’s or agency’s mission, (2) the department’s or
agency’s long-term general goals and objectives—or strategic goals—for
all major functions and operations, (3) a description of the approaches (or
strategies) for achieving the goals and the various resources needed, (4) an
identification of key factors, external to the department or agency and
beyond its control, that could significantly affect its achievement of the
strategic goals, (5) a description of the relationship between the long-term
strategic goals and annual performance goals, and (6) a description of how
program evaluations were used to establish or revise strategic goals and a
schedule for future evaluations.3

In developing their strategic plans, departments and agencies are to
consult with the Congress and to solicit the views of other stakeholders.
They are to submit their first strategic plans to the Office of Management
and Budget (OMB) and the Congress by September 30, 1997. A letter
transmitting a strategic plan to OMB and the Congress should include,
among other things, a summary of stakeholders’ views that “disagree, in a
substantive and germane way, with the programmatic, policy, or
management courses of action presented in the plan.”

Next, the Results Act requires executive departments and agencies to
develop annual performance plans covering each program activity set
forth in their budgets. The first annual performance plans, covering fiscal
year 1999, are to be provided to the Congress after the President’s budget
is submitted to the Congress in January or February 1998. An annual
performance plan is to contain the department’s or agency’s annual goals,


3
  See Preparation and Submission of Strategic Plans, Office of Management and Budget Circular A-11,
Part 2 ( Sept. 1995) and Agencies’ Strategic Plans Under GPRA: Key Questions to Facilitate
Congressional Review (GAO/GGD-10.1.16, May 1997).



Page 3                                                                        GAO/T-RCED-97-223
                              its measures to gauge its performance toward meeting those goals, and the
                              resources that it will need to meet its goals.

                              Finally, the Results Act requires executive departments and agencies to
                              prepare annual reports on program performance for the previous fiscal
                              year. The performance reports are to be issued by March 31 each year,
                              with the first (for fiscal year 1999) to be issued by March 31, 2000. In each
                              report, a department or agency is to compare its performance against its
                              goals, summarize the findings of program evaluations completed during
                              the year, and describe the actions needed to address any unmet goals.

                              RPA requires the Forest Service to, among other things, prepare a long-term
                              strategic plan every 5 years that recommends a level of future outputs and
                              associated costs. This plan is to be transmitted to the Congress along with
                              a presidential statement of policy, which indicates the President’s
                              intention to implement the plan through the annual budgeting process. The
                              Congress may accept or revise the statement of policy. Once approved, the
                              statement of policy and the RPA strategic plan serve as a guide to the
                              Forest Service’s future planning and as a basis for future budget proposals.
                              Finally, the agency prepares an annual report assessing its
                              accomplishments and progress in implementing the plan.

Status of the Results Act’s   The department-wide strategic overview—included in Agriculture’s draft
Implementation                strategic plan submitted to the Congress in May 1997—contains its overall
                              mission and goals. The overview refers the reader to the 30 component
                              mission area, subagency, and staff office plans for information on the six
                              critical components.

                              The Forest Service had pilot-tested the Results Act’s performance planning
                              and reporting requirements during fiscal years 1994 through 1996. The
                              agency has, over the past several weeks, briefed cognizant congressional
                              committees and subcommittees on the plan. The Forest Service’s plan will
                              be included in Agriculture’s final plan to be submitted to OMB and the
                              Congress by September 30, 1997.

                              The strategic goals in the Forest Service’s May 1997 plan are based on the
                              strategic goals in a draft RPA strategic plan, that the Forest Service issued
                              for public review and comment in October 1995.4 In May 1997, the Chief of
                              the Forest Service announced that the plan would be delayed for
                              approximately 10 more months to ensure that it fully reflects the most

                              4
                               The Forest Service Program for Forest and Rangeland Resources: A Long-Term Strategic Plan, Draft
                              1995 RPA Program, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington Office (Oct. 16, 1995).



                              Page 4                                                                        GAO/T-RCED-97-223
                        appropriate paths and priorities to care for the land and provide benefits
                        for the American people. He continued that during this period, the Forest
                        Service will conduct additional analysis related to a number of important
                        issues. As a result, the Congress has not had an opportunity to accept or
                        revise the statement of policy, as required by RPA.

                        The draft RPA plan included four long-term strategic goals: (1) protecting
                        ecosystems by ensuring their health and diversity while meeting people’s
                        needs; (2) restoring deteriorated ecosystems to improve the likelihood that
                        biological diversity, long-term sustainability, and future options are
                        maintained; (3) providing multiple benefits to meet people’s needs for
                        uses, values, products, and services within the capabilities of ecosystems;
                        and (4) ensuring organizational effectiveness by creating and maintaining
                        a multidisciplinary and multicultural workforce, respecting expertise and
                        professionalism, and empowering people to carry out the agency’s mission
                        while holding them accountable for achieving negotiated objectives. The
                        May 1997 plan combines the first two strategic goals in the draft RPA plan
                        into a single goal of restoring and protecting ecosystems, and it retains the
                        other two draft RPA goals (providing multiple benefits for people within the
                        capabilities of ecosystems and ensuring organizational effectiveness).

                        Each of the three long-term strategic goals in the May 1997 plan is
                        subdivided into objectives that the Forest Service believes are quantifiable
                        and can be linked to the current budget structure. For example, the
                        strategic goal of restoring and protecting ecosystems has been subdivided
                        into objectives for aquatic, forestland, and rangeland ecosystems; for
                        National Forest System lands and waters; and for threatened, endangered,
                        and sensitive species. Similarly, the strategic goal of providing multiple
                        benefits for people within the capabilities of ecosystems has been
                        subdivided into objectives for specific multiple uses, such as outdoor
                        recreation, wilderness, forage, timber, and mineral resources.


                        Madam Chairman, let me briefly discuss why it is important to hold the
The Forest Service      Forest Service accountable for its performance.
Has Not Given
Adequate Attention to   Our report on the Forest Service’s decision-making identifies an
                        organizational culture of indifference toward accountability. The agency’s
Improving Its           decentralized management and recently increased flexibility in shifting
Performance             funds within a simplified budget structure have not been accompanied by
                        sufficient accountability for expenditures and performance. The result is
                        inefficiency and waste.



                        Page 5                                                     GAO/T-RCED-97-223
For example, according to a November 1995 internal Forest Service
report, inefficiencies within the agency’s decision-making process cost up
to $100 million a year at the individual project level alone. These costs are
not borne by the Forest Service, but by the American taxpayer, since the
agency accomplishes fewer objectives with its yearly appropriations.

Moreover, as we pointed out in our report and in our April 29, 1997,
testimony on the Forest Service’s process for revising the Tongass
National Forest plan,5 the increased costs of inefficiency at every
decision-making level within the Forest Service should be measured not
only in dollars but also in lost ecological and economic opportunities. A
deteriorated aquatic or riparian ecosystem cannot be restored and the
critical habitat of an endangered species cannot be protected until a
decision is made. Similarly, a livestock grazing permit cannot be renewed
and a timber sale cannot be offered until the agency reaches a decision.
However, the most likely outcomes of the Forest Service’s current
decision-making process are indecision and delay.

Delays in finalizing forest plans, coupled with delays in finalizing
agencywide regulations and reaching individual project decisions, can
total a decade or longer. For example, the agency spent almost 10 years
revising the Tongass forest plan, and preparing a timber sale usually takes
another 3 to 8 years. As a result, those who are economically dependent on
the national forests are precluded from forming reasonable expectations
about the future availability of the forests’ uses. In addition, the forests’
health and productivity over time—whether measured by the diversity of
species, the availability of commodities, or any other indicators of
performance—are affected by the missed opportunities for improvement.

Past efforts by the Forest Service to improve its performance have been
stymied by the organization’s highly decentralized management. At every
level, managers have considerable autonomy and discretion for
interpreting and applying the agency’s policies and directions. For
example, in response to congressional concerns about the Forest Service’s
inability to deliver what is expected or promised, the Chief, in the fall of
1991, formed an agencywide task force to review the issue of
accountability. The task force’s 1994 report set forth a process and
recommended changes to strengthen accountability. However, the task
force’s recommendations have never been implemented throughout the
agency.

5
 Tongass National Forest: Lack of Accountability for Time and Costs Has Delayed Forest Plan Revision
(GAO/T-RCED-97-153).



Page 6                                                                       GAO/T-RCED-97-223
                      The Results Act, if implemented successfully, should help break the
Agreement Has Not     existing cycle of inefficiency within the Forest Service, strengthen the
Been Reached on the   agency’s accountability for performance and results, and improve the
Forest Service’s      efficiency and effectiveness of its decision-making. The strategic goals in
                      the Forest Service’s plan form the starting point and foundation for
Strategic Goals       holding the agency accountable for its performance. Hence, these goals
                      are critical to successfully implementing the act within the agency.
                      However, agreement has not been reached on the strategic goals in the
                      Forest Service’s plan, and the agency cannot begin to derive the benefits
                      anticipated from implementing the act.

                      The lack of agreement on the Forest Service’s strategic goals reflects the
                      controversy, both inside and outside the agency, over (1) which uses the
                      agency is to emphasize and (2) which management approach can best
                      ensure the long-term sustainability of legislatively mandated uses on the
                      national forests. The strategic goals in the Forest Service’s plan reflect
                      (1) an ongoing shift in emphasis under the agency’s broad multiple-use and
                      sustained-yield mandate from consumption (primarily producing timber)
                      to conservation (primarily sustaining wildlife and fish) and (2) a
                      significant change in the way the Forest Service considers and manages
                      natural resources (from managing primarily along administrative
                      boundaries to analyzing environmental issues and concerns along the
                      boundaries of natural systems, such as aquatic, forestland, and rangeland
                      ecosystems and the habitats of threatened, endangered, and sensitive
                      species). The increasing emphasis on conservation and ecosystem
                      management conflicts with the agency’s older emphasis on producing
                      timber and other commodities and will likely constrain future uses of the
                      national forests, such as recreation.

                      The Forest Service has been aware for some time of the controversy
                      surrounding its increasing emphasis on conservation and ecosystem
                      management and the likely effects of these changes in its management on
                      the types, levels, and mixes of legislatively mandated uses on the national
                      forests. These issues surfaced immediately after the Forest Service
                      conducted a briefing in January 1996 on its October 1995 draft RPA plan
                      (which includes the same strategic goals as the agency’s May 1997 plan).
                      The day after the briefing, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on National
                      Parks, Forests and Lands, House Committee on Resources, and the
                      Chairman of the Subcommittee on Forests and Public Land Management,
                      Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, wrote to the
                      Secretary of Agriculture stating, among other things, that (1) the
                      justification for the plan was “woefully inadequate,” (2) the plan



                      Page 7                                                     GAO/T-RCED-97-223
                       represented an abandonment of the agency’s multiple use and sustained
                       yield principles, (3) the Chairmen would not endorse the goals contained
                       in the draft plan, and (4) the final plan would require substantial changes
                       to address their concerns.


                       We recognize that Agriculture’s final plan—which will include the Forest
The Forest Service’s   Service’s plan—is not due to the Congress and OMB until September 30,
Plan Does Not          1997, and that the Results Act anticipates that the final plan will be
Adequately Address     continually refined as future planning cycles occur. We also recognize that
                       a strategic plan is dynamic and that Forest Service, Agriculture, OMB, and
Many Critical          congressional staff are continuing to revise the draft. However, given both
Components             the importance of strategic goals to the successful implementation of the
                       act and the disagreement over the goals in the Forest Service’s plan, we
                       believe that the agency should have taken the opportunity presented by
                       the act to consult with the Congress to better articulate its positions on
                       controversial issues. Specifically, the Forest Service should have set forth
                       (1) its rationale for emphasizing some legislatively mandated uses on the
                       national forests more than other uses, (2) the logic underlying its reliance
                       on ecosystem management, and (3) the likely effects of its policy choices
                       on the types, levels, and mixes of multiple uses on its lands.

                       The Forest Service seems to recognize the importance of reaching
                       agreement on its strategic goals to the successful implementation of the
                       act. For example, as the agency was drafting its plan, the Chief
                       commented on a draft of our decision-making report, stating that
                       (1) clarifying the agency’s mission was one of the Forest Service’s “highest
                       priorities,” (2) the agency was taking actions to clarify its long-term
                       strategic goals, and (3) the Forest Service intends to use the Results Act to
                       articulate these “mission principles.” However, the May 1997 plan does
                       less than the draft RPA plan to articulate the rationale for the agency’s
                       strategic goals and management approach. Furthermore, the May 1997
                       plan is silent on the likely effects of the goals and management approach
                       on the legislatively mandated multiple uses on the national forests.

                       In addition, we believe that the Forest Service’s May 1997 plan falls short
                       of adequately addressing critical components required by the Results Act,
                       especially in identifying key external factors that could affect achievement
                       of the plan’s strategic goals and objectives.




                       Page 8                                                      GAO/T-RCED-97-223
A Comprehensive Agency     The May 1997 plan captures the Forest Service’s broad multiple-use and
Mission Statement and      sustained-yield mandate, stating that the agency’s mission is to “achieve
Agencywide Long-Term       quality land management under sustainable multiple use management
                           concepts to meet the diverse needs of the land and people.” This mission
Strategic Goals            allows the agency to be all things to all people. However, the Forest
                           Service is increasingly unable to avoid, resolve, or mitigate conflicts
                           among competing uses on national forests by separating them among
                           areas and over time. As a result, the agency must make hard policy choices
                           concerning which of the competing multiple uses to emphasize and how to
                           resolve conflicts or make choices among these uses on its lands.

                           The multiple-use laws which guide the management of the nation’s forests
                           provide little guidance for the Forest Service in resolving conflicts among
                           competing uses. Often, the emphasis that the agency gives to particular
                           uses responds to factors supplementing these acts, such as requirements
                           in planning and environmental laws and their judicial interpretations. For
                           example, section 7 of the Endangered Species Act represents a
                           congressional design to give greater priority to the protection of
                           endangered and threatened species than to the current primary missions
                           of the Forest Service and other federal agencies. When proposing a
                           project, the Forest Service bears the burden of demonstrating that its
                           actions will not likely jeopardize listed species.

                           The strategic goals included in the plan reflect hard policy choices that the
                           Forest Service has made among competing uses. For example, in his
                           April 21, 1997, written comments on a draft of our decision-making report,
                           the Chief of the Forest Service stated that: “Simply stated, the Forest
                           Service believes that without first securing the health, diversity, and
                           productivity of the land, we [the agency] simply cannot meet the needs of
                           people.” Hence, the goals are controversial. Had the Forest Service not
                           only made the hard choices but also articulated its rationale for making
                           them, it would have better equipped the Congress to understand its
                           decisions.


An Identification of Key   The May 1997 plan does not discuss key external factors that could affect
External Factors           the achievement of the plan’s strategic goals and objectives.

                           OMB  Circular A-11 instructs that a department’s or agency’s strategic plan
                           briefly describe each key external factor that could affect the achievement
                           of the plan’s strategic goals and objectives, indicate the factor’s link with a
                           particular goal or goals, and describe how the achievement of a goal could



                           Page 9                                                       GAO/T-RCED-97-223
                            be affected by the factor. Early in our review of the Forest Service’s
                            decision-making, agency officials voiced concern about the many external
                            factors that affect the outcomes of the agency’s decisions and can prevent
                            the Forest Service from achieving its objectives.6 These factors include
                            changes in natural conditions and in funding, as well as new information
                            and events, such as the listing of a species as endangered or threatened.
                            Because these factors can have such an important effect on its
                            accomplishments and are largely beyond its ability to control, the Forest
                            Service has proposed removing from its forest plans measurable
                            objectives for goods and services, such as quantities of wood for lumber
                            and forage for livestock and numbers of opportunities for recreation.
                            However, the Forest Service discussed none of these external factors in its
                            draft plan.

                            Forest Service officials identified differences in the requirements of
                            numerous planning and environmental laws, enacted primarily during the
                            1960s and 1970s, and differing judicial interpretations of the same
                            statutory requirements that make it difficult for the agency to predict
                            when any given decision can be considered final and can be implemented.
                            This uncertainty reduces the agency’s ability to achieve its objectives. In
                            addition, as we emphasized in our April 29, 1997, testimony on revising the
                            Tongass forest plan, disagreements with federal regulatory agencies over
                            the best approaches to achieving environmental objectives and
                            implementing laws and regulations have also delayed forests plans and
                            projects. However, the Forest Service’s plan does not discuss these
                            external factors, even though the agency suggested options for changing
                            the current statutory framework in 1995.


A Description of the        The May 1997 plan does not indicate how the Forest Service intends to
Relationship Between the    measure progress toward achieving its strategic goals. For example, it
Long-Term Strategic Goals   does not specify how the agency proposes to measure (1) the impact of
                            ecosystem management on the health of forests and degraded rangelands
and Annual Performance      and (2) the effects of its policy choices on the types, levels, and mixes of
Goals                       uses on its lands. Instead of discussing the relationship between strategic
                            and performance goals in the plan, as instructed by OMB Circular A-11, the
                            Forest Service has deferred this discussion for Agriculture’s fiscal year
                            1999 annual performance plan that the Department is to submit to the
                            Congress in February 1998.


                            6
                             Forest Service: Issues Relating to Its Decisionmaking Process (GAO/T-RCED-96-66, Jan. 25, 1996) and
                            Forest Service: Issues Related to Managing National Forests for Multiple Uses (GAO/T-RCED-96-111,
                            Mar. 26, 1996).



                            Page 10                                                                       GAO/T-RCED-97-223
                           According to the Chief of the Forest Service, the agency’s performance
                           measures will result in “tangible social and ecological benefits.” However,
                           the Forest Service has had difficulty establishing performance measures
                           and annual target levels to assess its progress. In its June 1990 Critique of
                           Land Management Planning,7 the Forest Service states that “meaningful
                           production goals for recreation, water, wildlife, and fisheries have yet to
                           be established, even in theory, and reported accomplishments would be
                           nearly impossible to evaluate objectively or even verify independently.” An
                           April 22, 1997, draft of the Forest Service’s plan stated that indicators of
                           performance would have to be used to measure progress toward achieving
                           some objectives until outcome measures can be fully developed.


A Description of How       Our report on the Forest Service’s decision-making identifies problems in
Program Evaluations Will   the agency’s data and information systems dating back 17 years. These
Be Used                    problems include (1) not adequately monitoring the effects of past
                           management decisions to more accurately estimate the effects of similar
                           future decisions and to modify decisions when new information is
                           uncovered or when preexisting monitoring thresholds are crossed and
                           (2) not maintaining comparable environmental and socioeconomic data
                           that are useful and easily accessible. We and others have recommended
                           steps that the Forest Service could take to improve its data and systems,
                           but it has deferred action on these recommendations.

                           OMB Circular A-11 instructs that a department’s or agency’s strategic plan
                           include a schedule for future program evaluations. However, the Forest
                           Service’s draft plan defers action, proposing to take approximately 2 years
                           to develop “a clear and shared understanding of how to assess results at
                           the corporate level and select the best methodology.” This is consistent
                           with the agency’s tendency to study and restudy issues without reaching
                           closure. Without these evaluations, the agency will not be able to produce
                           the reliable performance and cost data needed to set goals, evaluate
                           results, and improve performance, and the Congress will lack a potentially
                           critical source of information to ensure the validity and reasonableness of
                           the agency’s goals and strategies, as well as to identify factors affecting
                           performance.


                           In conclusion, Madam Chairman, the inefficiencies and ineffectiveness of
                           the Forest Service’s decision-making, combined with the agency’s

                           7
                            Critique of Land Management Planning, Vol.2, National Forest Planning: Searching for a Common
                           Vision, Forest Service (FS-453, June 1990).



                           Page 11                                                                     GAO/T-RCED-97-223
           reluctance to change, give urgency to implementing the Results Act. The
           agency’s plan should provide the starting point for establishing the
           measures and annual target levels to be used in assessing the Forest
           Service’s progress toward achieving strategic goals. However, the draft
           plan’s silence on the Forest Service’s rationale for its strategic goals, its
           management approach, and the likely effects of its policy choices on
           multiple uses on the national forests has contributed to a stalemate on the
           agency’s strategic goals which threatens successful implementation of this
           landmark legislation.

           Madam Chairman, this concludes my prepared statement. We will be
           pleased to respond to any questions that you or Members of the
           Subcommittee may have.




(141084)   Page 12                                                     GAO/T-RCED-97-223
Ordering Information

The first copy of each GAO report and testimony is free.
Additional copies are $2 each. Orders should be sent to the
following address, accompanied by a check or money order
made out to the Superintendent of Documents, when
necessary. VISA and MasterCard credit cards are accepted, also.
Orders for 100 or more copies to be mailed to a single address
are discounted 25 percent.

Orders by mail:

U.S. General Accounting Office
P.O. Box 6015
Gaithersburg, MD 20884-6015

or visit:

Room 1100
700 4th St. NW (corner of 4th and G Sts. NW)
U.S. General Accounting Office
Washington, DC

Orders may also be placed by calling (202) 512-6000
or by using fax number (301) 258-4066, or TDD (301) 413-0006.

Each day, GAO issues a list of newly available reports and
testimony. To receive facsimile copies of the daily list or any
list from the past 30 days, please call (202) 512-6000 using a
touchtone phone. A recorded menu will provide information on
how to obtain these lists.

For information on how to access GAO reports on the INTERNET,
send an e-mail message with "info" in the body to:

info@www.gao.gov

or visit GAO’s World Wide Web Home Page at:

http://www.gao.gov




PRINTED ON    RECYCLED PAPER
United States                       Bulk Rate
General Accounting Office      Postage & Fees Paid
Washington, D.C. 20548-0001           GAO
                                 Permit No. G100
Official Business
Penalty for Private Use $300

Address Correction Requested