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In response to a congressional request, GAO developed the basic design of a cost accounting system for timber sales that would provide cost and revenue information for Forest Service managers and Congress.
GAO noted that the Forest Service needs a timber sales cost accounting system that it can adapt to a variety of management environments to generate consistent information. GAO reported that the main system design features include requirements for: (1) establishing timber management cost centers for matching costs and revenues; (2) establishing a set of categories for sorting out the variety of timber sales; (3) using cost pools to capture and apportion multiyear costs; (4) clarifying term and cost definitions; (5) establishing standard operating procedures; and (6) developing useful formats for reporting financial results. GAO concluded that the Service needs to address several issues as it implements the system, including: (1) the level at which it should manage specific fund balances; (2) line officer accountability for meeting the system's objectives; and (3) estimates and procedures that it will adopt as part of the system.
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