Forest Service

2017


 

USDA OIG: Forest Service Secure Rural Schools Program 

August 2017

The Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program has been in place since 2000, but the Forest Service (FS) has not issued regulations to clarify the program's statutory requirements. FS has been reluctant to draft regulations due to the program's impermanence; however, Congress has repeatedly reauthorized SRS since its inception. Without regulations, program participants may be unaware of their responsibilities or misinterpret appropriate use of SRS funds, therefore leaving funds vulnerable to misuse. Report


 

2015


 

USDA OIG: Forest Service Firefighting Cost Share Agreements with Non-Federal Entities 

December 2015

OIG audited FS’ administration of fire protection and cost share agreements to determine if fire suppression costs were equitably shared. 

Along with local and State authorities, Forest Service (FS) is responsible for helping to protect forests nationwide from wildfire. Since 1991, FS’ average yearly fire suppression costs have nearly doubled from an average of about $580 million (FYs 1991 to 2000) to $1.2 billion (FYs 2001 to 2010). 

OIG also found that local cooperators used indirect cost rates for firefighting activities that may have been excessive and unreasonable. 

As a result, we questioned over $4.5 million in administrative costs paid to nine cooperators in California. In addition, FS overpaid $6.5 million to Colorado State University for unallowable administrative costs during a 4-year period. Although FS identified this issue and ceased future overpayments, it has not recovered the overpayments. Report

Media Coverage

Wild Fire TodayReport concludes that USFS should revise fire protection agreement with CAL FIRE


 

2012


 

USDA OIG: Grant Recipient Had Inadequate Controls to Account for Its Recovery Act Grants The Recovery Act - Forest Service (FS) Hazardous Fuels Reduction and Ecosystem Restoration on Non-Federal Lands 

January 2012

FS approved 152 WFM projects on non-Federal lands from May through September 2009, including a project to perform hazardous fuels treatments on non-Federal lands in the Lake Tahoe Basin. FS awarded a $3.6 million Recovery Act grant to the Nevada Fire Safe Council (the Council) to implement this project. 

In July 2011, OIG reviewed a hotline complaint alleging that the Council was not conducting a fair and competitive bidding process when hiring contractors to perform the work related to the Recovery Act grant agreement, and that certain bids were being saved for local fire departments, who were charging excessive prices to perform hazardous fuels treatments on non-Federal lands in the Lake Tahoe Basin. 

During OIG's review of the hotline complaint, OIG found that the Council did not properly account for the grant funds FS awarded, including the $3.6 million Recovery Act grant and also a
$6.2 million non-Recovery Act grant (a total of $9.8 million in Federal funds). Report.


 

2011


 

USDA OIG: State Agency Charged Recovery Act Grants and Non-Recovery Act Grants $14.4 Million in Unallowable Costs – The Recovery Act - Forest Service (FS) Hazardous Fuels Reduction and Ecosystem Restoration on Non-Federal Lands 

November 2011

The Recovery Act included $200 million in grant funding for FS to implement Wildland Fire Management (WFM) activities on State, county, and private lands. From May through September 2009, FS approved 171 WFM grants for projects on non-Federal lands. In total, $14.4 million of the Commission’s charges to its FS grants during the period reviewed were unallowable. Report


 

USDA OIG: Grant Recipient Used Recovery Act Funds for Unauthorized Purposes – The Recovery Act - Forest Service (FS) Hazardous Fuels Reduction and Ecosystem Restoration on Non-Federal Lands 

October 2011

The Recovery Act included $200 million in grant funding for FS to implement Wildland Fire Management (WFM) activities on State, county, and private lands.

The grant for one of the projects in our sample was awarded to Colorado State University (CSU). CSU administered the grant for a sub-recipient—a privately-owned saw mill—which was to use the grant funds for meeting labor costs of its employees and temporary workers employed by a staffing company hired by the sawmill. 

OIG found that CSU reimbursed the sawmill with grant funds without requesting adequate documentation to show that the sawmill had actually paid the expenses it claimed for reimbursement. As a result, CSU did not detect that the sawmill improperly used $128,610 of reimbursed Recovery Act funds for unauthorized purposes, such as paying for the sawmill’s non-salary costs, or directing funds to an affiliated mill in another State. Report.


 

USDA OIG: Grant Recipients Not Meeting Economic Stimulus Intent of Recovery Act – The Recovery Act - Forest Service (FS) Hazardous Fuels Reduction and Ecosystem Restoration on Non-Federal Lands 

June 2011

The Recovery Act included $200 millionfor FS to implement Wildland Fire Management (WFM) activities on State, county, and private lands. From May through September 2009, FS’ Washington Office approved 152 WFM projects on non-Federal lands. 

OIG reviewed 5 of the 152 non-Federal WFM Recovery Act-funded projects, consisting of 7 grants, valued at $23.9 million, to determine whether the projects were being timely completed in compliance with Recovery Act requirements. OIG's review of the seven non-Federal WFM Recovery Act-funded grants found that three of the grant recipients were not effectively using the grant funds they received to create or sustain the most jobs possible, as intended by the Recovery Act. 

In each of these cases, the grant recipient did not create additional jobs because no new employees were hired. Report.


 

USDA OIG: Salaries Totaling Almost $400,000 Charged to Recovery Act Grants Reviewed Were Unsupported - The Recovery Act - Forest Service (FS) Hazardous Fuels Reduction and Ecosystem Restoration on Non-Federal Lands  

May 2011

The Recovery Act included $200 millionfor FS to implement Wildland Fire Management (WFM) activities5 on State, county, and private lands. From May through September 2009, FS’ Washington Office approved 152 WFM projects on non-Federal lands. 

For 6 of the 17 Recovery Act grants reviewed, we found that the grant recipients did not comply with the salary allocation requirements 

Due to FS’ lack of oversight, grant recipients were reimbursed $389,747 in unsupported salary costs for five of the six grants reviewed. This amount could exceed $28 million for the six grant recipients after including all of their other FS Recovery Act and non-Recovery Act grants also affected by this control deficiency. Report