Wildland Fire Management: Interagency Budget Tool Needs Further Development to Fully Meet Key Objectives, Report to the Chairman, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, U.S. Senate   [open pdf - 929KB]

"Wildland fires have become increasingly damaging and costly. To deal with fire's threats, the five federal wildland fire agencies-the Forest Service in the Department of Agriculture and four agencies in the Department of the Interior (Interior)-rely on thousands of firefighters, fire engines, and other assets. To ensure acquisition of the best mix of these assets, the agencies in 2002 began developing a new interagency budget tool known as fire program analysis (FPA). FPA underwent major changes in 2006, raising questions about its ability to meet its original objectives. GAO was asked to examine FPA's development to date, including the 2006 changes, and the extent to which FPA will meet its objectives. To do so, GAO reviewed agency policies and FPA documentation and interviewed agency officials. GAO is recommending, among other things, that the agencies develop a strategic plan for the continued development of FPA and provide Congress with annual updates on their progress in completing the steps outlined in that plan and how they used FPA in developing their budgets. Interior disagreed with the need to develop a strategic plan. In response to Forest Service and Interior comments on GAO findings on FPA's cost-effectiveness approach, GAO's recommendation to develop a strategic plan was revised to provide more flexibility. The agencies generally concurred with the other recommendations."

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