Forest Service reforms financial management

Forest Service chief Mike Dombeck plans to reform the agency's management and financial systems in an effort to improve accountability and to provide more timely and accurate financial information.

The restructuring establishes three new positions in the Forest Service: chief operating officer, deputy chief/chief financial officer and deputy chief for business operations. All Forest Service deputy chiefs now will report to either the COO or the associate chief for natural resources.

At a hearing in late March, Congress and the General Accounting Office criticized the Forest Service for widespread financial mismanagement and inefficiency, which has cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

The management changes will "simplify our reporting systems and provide clear lines of authority" to make managers more accountable for fiscal management, Dombeck said. The ultimate goal of the restructuring is to ensure that the agency gets its "financial house in order quickly," he added.

So far, two positions have been filled. Francis Pandolfi, special assistant to the chief, will become COO. Clyde Thompson, who has been serving as the acting deputy chief for operations, will become the deputy chief for business operations.

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