< Back to H.R. 4149 (105th Congress, 1997–1998)

Text of the Forest Service Cost Reduction and Fiscal Accountability Act of 1998

This bill was introduced on August 6, 1998, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted. The text of the bill below is as of Jun 25, 1998 (Introduced).

Source: GPO

HR 4149 IH

105th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 4149

To reduce overhead and other costs associated with the management of the National Forest System, to improve the fiscal accountability of the Forest Service through an improved financial accounting system, and for other purposes.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

June 25, 1998

Mr. SMITH of Oregon (for himself, Mr. COMBEST, Mr. HERGER, and Mr. TAYLOR of North Carolina) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Agriculture


A BILL

To reduce overhead and other costs associated with the management of the National Forest System, to improve the fiscal accountability of the Forest Service through an improved financial accounting system, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS.

    (a) SHORT TITLE- This Act may be cited as the ‘Forest Service Cost Reduction and Fiscal Accountability Act of 1998’.

    (b) TABLE OF CONTENTS- The table of contents of this Act is as follows:

      Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.

      Sec. 2. Findings.

      Sec. 3. Definitions.

      Sec. 4. All Resources Reporting System.

      Sec. 5. Limitations on costs charged to off-budget funds.

      Sec. 6. Disclosure of indirect expenditures and general administration costs in annual budget requests.

      Sec. 7. Cost reduction strategic plan.

      Sec. 8. Audit requirements.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    Congress finds the following:

      (1) Over the last several years, indirect expenditures and other overhead costs within the Forest Service have increased substantially, both in total dollar amounts and as a percentage of total expenditures. Rising indirect expenditures and other overhead costs have hindered the ability of the Forest Service to carry out its core mission of managing the National Forest System.

      (2) According to the Comptroller General, indirect expenditures associated with Forest Service management of five off-budget funds established by law to provide funds for site restoration, reforestation, habitat improvement, brush disposal and other critical management activities has increased by 80 percent and now exceeds 27 percent of the total annual expenditures from these off-budget funds. Considerable debate continues regarding whether such expenditures exceed spending authority provided by Congress.

      (3) Forest Service data show that annual general administration costs associated with the Federal timber sale program increased by 46 percent between 1992 and 1996 and now comprise 31 percent of the total costs of the program. Such data show that annual general administration costs exceed the total annual costs of all of the following combined:

        (A) Environmental analysis.

        (B) Appeals and litigation.

        (C) Road design, construction, and maintenance.

        (D) Brush disposal.

        (E) Reforestation and other site improvements.

        (F) Transportation planning.

        (G) Silvicultural examinations.

      (4) The Forest Service does not presently have an adequate financial accounting system in place to identify and manage the indirect and total expenditures associated with the programs it administers. The lack of such a system, and accompanying safeguards to prevent inappropriate use of appropriated funds and off-budget funds, may be contributing

substantially to declines in the goods and services the Forest Service is able to provide to the American public and other users of the National Forest System.

      (5) The Forest Service is in need of a comprehensive strategy for identifying and reducing, where appropriate, indirect and total expenditures associated with management of the National Forest System. Such a strategy must include clear, tangible objectives and performance measures that will make it possible to measure agency performance and identify results.

      (6) Any comprehensive strategy ultimately adopted by the Forest Service to better manage indirect and total expenditures associated with management of the National Forest System must be designed so as to maintain or increase the goods and services provided to the American public and other users of the National Forest System as a result of its implementation.

SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

    For purposes of this Act:

      (1) BUDGET REQUEST- The term ‘budget request’ means the Forest Service budget justification documents submitted to the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate in support of the President’s budget for a fiscal year submitted to Congress pursuant to section 1105 of title 31, United States Code.

      (2) GENERAL ADMINISTRATION- The term ‘general administration’ means amounts appropriated for general line management, administrative support, and common services, as identified in the Forest Service budget request.

      (3) INDIRECT EXPENDITURES- The term ‘indirect expenditures’ means indirect support activities, as defined in the Forest Service Handbook and other expenditures, including salary, travel, training and vehicle use, that cannot, in a feasible manner, be specifically identified with a single project, including the following:

        (A) Expenditures related to line officers, including district rangers, forest supervisors, regional foresters, and Washington Office positions, and their support staff.

        (B) Program support expenditures to coordinate, manage, and execute programs, business activities, community involvement, and other similar activities.

        (C) Nonpersonnel expenditures associated with providing space and working environments for employees, including rentals, utilities, communications, radio, office and computer equipment, mail and postage, and office supplies and forms.

      (4) OFF-BUDGET FUND- The term ‘off-budget fund’ means a trust fund or permanent appropriation administered by the Forest Service, including the following:

        (A) The brush disposal fund established under the twenty-first paragraph under the heading ‘FOREST SERVICE’ in the Act of August 11, 1916 (39 Stat. 462; 16 U.S.C. 490).

        (B) The cooperative work-other fund established under the penultimate paragraph under the heading ‘FOREST SERVICE’ in the Act of June 30, 1914 (38 Stat. 430; 16 U.S.C. 498).

        (C) Knutson-Vandenberg fund established under section 3 of the Act of June 9, 1930 (commonly known as the Knutson-Vandenberg Act; 16 U.S.C. 576b).

        (D) The reforestation trust fund established under section 303(d) of Public Law 96-451 (16 U.S.C. 1606a).

        (E) The salvage sale fund established under section 14(h) of the National Forest Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 472a(h)).

        (F) The roads and trails fund established under the fourteenth paragraph under the heading ‘FOREST SERVICE’ of the Act of March 4, 1913 (37 Stat. 843; 16 U.S.C. 501).

      (5) SECRETARY- The term ‘Secretary’ means the Secretary of Agriculture, acting through the Chief of the Forest Service.

SEC. 4. ALL RESOURCES REPORTING SYSTEM.

    (a) ACCOUNTING SYSTEM REQUIRED-

      (1) SCHEDULE FOR IMPLEMENTATION- Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall prepare a schedule for implementation of an accounting system (to be known as the ‘All Resources Reporting System’) to account for the costs and revenues associated with the programs administered by the Forest Service. The Secretary shall include the schedule in the strategic plan required under section 7.

      (2) IMPLEMENTATION- The All Resources Reporting System shall be fully implemented for all of the programs identified under subsection (b) beginning no later than the first day of the second full fiscal year following the date of the enactment of this Act.

    (b) REQUIRED PROGRAMS- The All Resources Reporting System shall include, at a minimum, the following program areas:

      (1) Land management planning, inventorying, and monitoring.

      (2) Recreation use.

      (3) Rangeland management.

      (4) Commercial timber management.

      (5) Forestland vegetation management.

      (6) Soil, water, and air management.

      (7) Minerals and geology management.

      (8) Wildlife and fisheries habitat management.

      (9) Land ownership management.

      (10) Infrastructure management.

      (11) Law enforcement operations.

      (12) State and private forestry.

      (13) Forest and rangeland research.

    (c) COST ALLOCATIONS- The All Resources Reporting System shall allocate certain costs as follows:

      (1) The costs of the commercial timber management program shall consist of the costs identified with the timber commodity component of the Federal timber sale program, as contained in the Forest Management Program Annual Report.

      (2) The costs of the forest land vegetation and wildlife and fisheries habitat management program shall include the costs of the forest stewardship and personal use components of the Federal timber sale program, as contained in the Forest Management Program Annual Report. Such costs shall be divided, as appropriate, between the two programs.

    (d) IDENTIFICATION OF INDIRECT EXPENDITURES AND GENERAL ADMINISTRATION COSTS- The All Resources Reporting System shall clearly identify the indirect expenditures and general administration costs charged or allocated annually to each program.

    (e) ADMINISTRATIVE UNITS- The All Resources Reporting System shall include a separate report for each administrative unit of the National Forest System, for State and private forestry, and for research.

    (f) COMPLIANCE WITH GENERALLY ACCEPTED ACCOUNTING PRINCIPLES- The Forest Service shall ensure that the All Resources Reporting System complies with generally accepted accounting principles.

SEC. 5. LIMITATIONS ON COSTS CHARGED TO OFF-BUDGET FUNDS.

    (a) ANNUAL PERCENTAGE LIMITATION- Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall cap total annual indirect expenditures from each of the off-budget funds at 20 percent of the total expenditures from each fund.

    (b) ELIMINATION OF INDIRECT EXPENDITURES- Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall prepare a schedule for eliminating indirect expenditures from each off-budget fund by the end of the second full fiscal year following the date of the enactment of this Act. To ensure elimination of such indirect expenditures by the end of such second full fiscal year, the schedule shall reduce indirect expenditures to at least 10 percent of total annual expenditures from each off-budget fund beginning on the first day of the second full fiscal year. The Secretary shall include the schedule in the strategic plan required under section 7.

SEC. 6. DISCLOSURE OF INDIRECT EXPENDITURES AND GENERAL ADMINISTRATION COSTS IN ANNUAL BUDGET REQUESTS.

    The Secretary shall plainly disclose for each budget line item, expanded budget line item, or program identified in each annual budget request the following information:

      (1) The total amount of indirect expenditures and general administration costs that will be charged or allocated to the line item, expanded line item, or program during the applicable fiscal year, expressed both in total dollars and as a percentage of the total line item, expanded line item, or program.

      (2) The total amount of indirect expenditures and general administration costs charged or allocated to the line item, expanded line item, or program for each of the preceding three fiscal years, expressed both in total dollars and a percentage of the total line item, expanded line item, or program.

SEC. 7. COST REDUCTION STRATEGIC PLAN.

    (a) STRATEGIC PLAN REQUIRED- Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall prepare and submit to Congress a five-year strategic plan to identify and reduce, where appropriate, indirect expenditures and other costs associated with the programs identified in section 4(b) while simultaneously increasing the goods and services provided by such programs through the National Forest System.

    (b) ELEMENTS OF STRATEGIC PLAN- The strategic plan shall include, at a minimum, the following elements:

      (1) A description and schedule for full implementation of the All Resources Reporting System.

      (2) A schedule for eliminating indirect expenditures from off-budget funds pursuant to section 5.

      (3) A method for identifying annually the direct and indirect expenditures (expressed both in total dollars and as a percentage of total program expenditures) charged or allocated to each program by the Washington, regional, forest, and ranger district offices.

      (4) A framework, including specific instructions to line officers and other decision makers, for establishing and achieving a five-year goal for reducing, as appropriate, the indirect expenditures and total expenditures charged to each program by the Washington, regional, forest, and ranger district offices while maintaining or increasing the goods and services provided by such programs through the National Forest System.

      (5) A plan to improve the cost-effectiveness of program and project planning and implementation through increased private-sector contracting.

      (6) Annual, output-based incentives for line officers and other decision-makers to meet the schedules and achieve the objectives established under this subsection.

    (c) CONSULTATION- The Secretary shall prepare the strategic plan in consultation with the Comptroller General and the Inspector General of the Department of Agriculture.

    (d) RESULTS OF IMPLEMENTATION- The Secretary shall include an annual review of the results of the implementation of the strategic plan as an addendum to the annual budget request. The annual review may also be included in the annual performance plan prepared pursuant to the provisions of the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (Public Law 103-62; 107 Stat. 285). The addendum shall include a description of the following:

      (1) Modifications in the implementation of the strategic plan that occurred during the course of the fiscal year and the impact of the modifications.

      (2) Changes to the definition of or method of accounting for direct and indirect expenditures and general administration costs that occurred during the previous fiscal year.

      (3) Private contracting demonstration projects commenced under subsection (e) and the results of any such projects that are completed.

    (e) DEMONSTRATION OF PRIVATE-SECTOR CONTRACTING- For purposes of the implementation of the element of the strategic plan described in subsection (b)(5), and notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary may conduct demonstration projects to test the cost-effectiveness of using private contracting for planning, programming, project implementation, and other activities of the Forest Service that do not constitute decision-making.

SEC. 8. AUDIT REQUIREMENTS.

    (a) ANNUAL EVALUATIONS REQUIRED- The Comptroller General shall submit to Congress an annual evaluation assessing the effectiveness of the implementation of the strategic plan required under section 7. The evaluation for a year shall be submitted as soon as practicable after the submission of the Forest Service budget request for the next year.

    (b) FIVE-YEAR AUDIT REQUIRED- At the conclusion of the fifth full fiscal year following the date of the enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General shall conduct a comprehensive audit of the implementation of the strategic plan required under section 7. Such audit shall include an analysis of the following:

      (1) The trends in indirect and total expenditures charged to each program by the Washington, regional, forest, and ranger district offices.

      (2) A description of the effectiveness of the implementation of the strategic plan, or any modifications thereto, on the management of indirect expenditures and total expenditures charged to each program by the Washington, regional, forest, and ranger district offices.

      (3) Recommendations to further improve the management of indirect and total expenditures charged to each program by the Washington, regional, forest, and ranger district offices.