Washington, D.C. — On Friday, October 1, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and Forestry, introduced legislation aimed at restoring financial accountability to the U.S. Forest Service.
"The Forest Service has shown little if any accountability to the American people for its policies or its finances. Giving the agency increased funding before it demonstrates substantial improvement would be an egregious breach of public trust," Goodlatte said.
The Forest Service Financial Accountability Act, H.R. 2996, freezes the Forest Service's authorized appropriations at the FY99 enacted level until it meets the basic criteria for financial accountability required for GAO to remove the Agency's "high risk" designation.
In 1996, the USDA Office of Inspector General issued the first in a series of adverse opinions on the financial statements of the Forest Service. Since that time, the agency has been the subject of more than twenty oversight reports and internal studies. Finally, in January 1999, the General Accounting Office (GAO) issued a report identifying the Forest Service as an agency at "high risk" because of its vulnerability to waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement.
"I strongly believe that reducing the forest restoration and infrastructure backlog must continue to be the Forest Service's number one priority until it has been fully addressed," Goodlatte said. "Unfortunately, the Forest Service's continual disregard for this problem indicates that no such priority exists in the agency's budget. It's time to stop rewarding the Forest Service's mismanagement and force it to demonstrate some accountability."
Goodlatte represents Virginia's Sixth Congressional District, which includes Roanoke, Lynchburg, and the Shenandoah Valley.