GAO: Mixed results to come from Forest Service move to DOI

Moving the US Forest Service into the US Department of the Interior could potentially create long-term benefits and short-term problems, the Government Accountability Office said in a Feb. 24 report.

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Mar. 3 -- Moving the US Forest Service into the US Department of the Interior could potentially create long-term benefits and short-term problems, the Government Accountability Office said in a Feb. 24 report.

GAO said according to many agency officials and experts, where the mission of the Forest Service, which now is part of the US Department of Agriculture, is aligned with those of DOI agencies (in particular, its multiple use missions which is comparable to that of the US Bureau of Land Management), a move could increase some of the agencies' programs and policies overall effectiveness.

"Conversely, most agency officials and experts GAO interview believed that few short-term efficiencies would be realized from such a move, although a number said opportunities would be created for potential long-term efficiencies," GAO's report continued.

"Many officials and experts suggested that if the objective of a move is to improve land management and increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the agencies' diverse programs, other options might achieve better results," it added.

The proposal is periodically discussed because BLM and the Forest Service often manage adjacent federal acreage. The agencies already work together on some activities, including onshore oil and gas lease sales in which BLM sometimes includes some Forest Service tracts at that agency's request.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

More in General Interest