USDA FOREST SERVICE : Strategic Planning and Resource Assessment

Management's Discussion and Analysis

The President’s Management Initiatives

The Forest Service’s efforts to improve agency management and performance have been a part f the agency’s long-term goals for many years. In 2001, the PMA became a major focus for the Federal Government, complementing many of the efforts undertaken by the Forest Service. With this renewed focus, the Forest Service developed the Forest Service Strategy for Improving Organizational Efficiency (June 2002), which addressed all five PMA initiatives.

Throughout FY 2003, the Forest Service continued the implementation of the Organizational Efficiency Strategy’s 21 plans, which were developed and approved by agency leadership to address the PMA initiatives.

Performance and Budget Integration

Designing and Implementing a Performance Accountability System

In December 2002, the Forest Service began the process of designing a performance accountability process and system in order to better track agency performance and to more efficiently and effectively complete the Performance and Accountability Report, as required by the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA). A Forest Service Executive Steering Team provided direction and oversight for this effort, using technical support from an Integrated Project Team.

The assessment, released in July 2003, recommends a single solution to deliver an integrated performance accountability process and management system. The proposed solution must be consistent with Forest Service’s E-Gov Enterprise Architecture Project, the Budget and Performance Integration Initiative, Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Federal Enterprise

Architecture Performance Reference Model and Business Reference Model, and the USDA Performance Management Guidance for 2002. This accountability not only supports the integration of budget and performance information, but also improves tracking efficiencies and begins tracking agency effectiveness as outcomes of Forest Service decisionmaking.

The PAS will enable Forest Service leadership to develop results-oriented management objectives that are aligned with the agency’s mission and a means by which to measure the intended results through performance measures. The PAS will bring more accurate and timely annual and quarterly performance reporting, improve leadership’s ability to communicate priorities, and provide managers with a tool to identify risks or consequences to any tradeoffs in program delivery.

The PAS will provide the field with a means to develop programs of work and budget requests that are aligned with these management objectives through a mix of activities tied to local priorities and capabilities.

A prototype for PAS was designed to demonstrate the recommended solution architecture to agency leadership in July 2003, using data and information from Region 10 ( Alaska). A contract was let that produced the system architecture in September 2003. This architecture defines a system that will be operational for the FY 2005 budget execution and FY 2006 formulation.

At the project level, Forest Service launched a project work-planning tool—WorkPlan —in May 2003.

WorkPlan offers a consistent approach to project planning and tracking across the agency, replacing several variations of an older tool—used since the 1980s. The PAS and WorkPlan will bridge the gaps among the legacy tracking and reporting systems, becoming the integration mechanisms to plan, implement, track, and report Forest Service activities.

Improved Financial Management

Improved financial management is essential for the Forest Service and the agency is fully committed to improving the agency’s business and accounting processes and systems. The Forest Service recognizes that some legacy financial systems, such as the feeder systems to Foundation Financial Information System (FFIS), do not meet requirements for Federal financial management. These systems need to be replaced or eliminated. This effort, led by the USDA, will continue for several years, and will require a significant amount of agency resources to complete.

The Integrated Acquisition System (IAS) is one such example. This system replaces older, noncompliant procurement systems, while providing full accounting and reporting for

Forest Service procurement actions.

To sustain the momentum of an unqualified audit opinion for FY 2003, the Forest Service is committed to—

  • Fully training qualified employees in financial management policy and accounting standards.
  • Making available the status and information about agency financial operations through a variety of reporting tools.
  • Enforcing all current critical financial management policies and procedures.
  • Expanding the availability of computer-based financial systems to meet agency requirements.
  • Addressing and correcting all material weaknesses and reportable conditions.

Financial Systems

In 2000, the Forest Service implemented FFIS, a U.S. Standard General Ledger-based financial management system that complies with Federal financial requirements.

In 2001, the agency implemented the Budget Formulation and Execution System (BFES). But to reconcile 2002 material weaknesses, certain financial management policies and business practices are being updated to sustain improvements for all agency accounts, including property managed by the Forest Service. Reconciliation teams are also being used to continue to improve the data integrity within the agency’s accounting system.

By implementing these financial systems and adhering to the GPRA, the agency is moving forward with the development of integrated processes and systems that provide needed systemic linkages among the formulation of budgets, the accomplishment of work on the ground, and the associated cost of the work.

Indirect Costs and Reducing Fixed-to-Variable Cost Ratio

The Forest Service’s National Leadership Team will lead the agency in developing alternatives and implementing a plan to reduce indirect costs as a percentage of the total agency budget. Through this effort the agency will improve its fixed-to-variable cost ratio resulting in increased budgetary flexibility.

Baselines for fixed-to-variable cost ratios were established for all Forest Service units for FY 2002.

Strategic Management of Human Capital

The Annual Workforce Planning process continues, involving both field-level and agencywide analysis of attrition and retirement trends, hiring projections, diversity profiles, and competency needs. This resulted in the release of a Workforce Plan Addendum in March 2003.

The agency continues to implement its 5-year strategy to meet mission-critical skills gaps as identified in the Workforce Plan. The National Recruitment Council coordinates implementation of this strategy in the field and at headquarters, while a senior-level workforce advisory group provides leadership for the process.

From a corporate training perspective, the Forest Service continues the marketing and deployment of a national New Employee Orientation program, resulting in attendance by over 1,000 employees in two sessions. The framework design of a career-planning database is now completed. Enhancement to a servicewide Web-based training tracking system continues into FY 2004.

The Leadership Success component of the Human Capital Initiative, comprising a five-tiered program for developing leadership competencies at all levels of the organization, has been designed and approved. A program manager has been chosen to lead the Leadership Success Program, and work on a Senior Leaders program has begun. Information on Leadership Success

from most of the regional offices is now available on the agency’s Intranet.

A Knowledge Management Working Group, chartered by the Chief, met for a 1-week session in June 2003 to strategize how to improve systems for the creation and capture of employees’ knowledge, with the capability to then share it throughout the agency. This resulted in the formation of a specific subcommittee on capturing employee knowledge and the defining of its roles: benchmarking, with other agencies and contractors, the methods for capturing employees’ knowledge and developing a comprehensive proposal for capturing Forest Service employees’ knowledge.

Competitive Sourcing

The Forest Service identified four functions for study, with a goal of completing studies for over 3,000 fulltime equivalent (FTEs) positions by end of FY 2003. In total, there were 171 separate studies. The studies for Content Analysis, Maintenance, and Computer Help-Desk functions have been successfully completed. The study of IT Infrastructure, which is a single study, has been extended until the spring of 2004 due to the size and complexity of the study; hence, these 1,200 FTEs, along with three smaller maintenance studies that were not completed (144 FTEs) cannot be credited towards the FY 2003 goal. In short, we completed studies of 2,350 FTEs in FY 2003. The uncompleted study FTEs will count toward the agency’s cumulative Competitive Sourcing goals in FY 2004.

The delay of the four individual studies was due to the extensive time required to develop a performance work statement, or PWS, which is the backbone of Competitive Sourcing competitions. The PWS is used as the basis for contractor bids and government proposals

for performing the required work. The source selection decisions for the two R-5 maintenance studies are expected in December 2003, and decisions for the R-10 Trails and the IT studies are expected in April 2004. The Chief Financial Officer’s (CFO) staff is expected to undergo a formal competitive sourcing competition in FY 2004. As such, the CFO has begun Business Process Reengineering studies designed to improve efficiency, financial processes, and cost effectiveness.

Also, a Competitive Sourcing Program Office was created and funded for eight FTEs. Only five of the positions are filled.

It is too early to estimate the savings as a result of the studies.

Expanded Electronic Government (e-Gov)

The Forest Service has detailed its strategy to use technology to improve efficiency and public service in the recently approved Forest Service e-Government Strategy and Roadmap.

The agency made substantial progress in creating the infrastructure and starting the business case analysis process for several projects including Recreation One-Stop, environmental planning records, streamlining the permit process, and online citizen transactions, as required by the Government Paperwork Elimination Act.