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Detailed Information on the
Forest Service: Forest Legacy Program Assessment

Program Code 10001008
Program Title Forest Service: Forest Legacy Program
Department Name Department of Agriculture
Agency/Bureau Name Forest Service
Program Type(s) Competitive Grant Program
Assessment Year 2004
Assessment Rating Moderately Effective
Assessment Section Scores
Section Score
Program Purpose & Design 80%
Strategic Planning 75%
Program Management 80%
Program Results/Accountability 73%
Program Funding Level
(in millions)
FY2007 $57
FY2008 $52
FY2009 $13

Ongoing Program Improvement Plans

Year Began Improvement Plan Status Comments
2005

Focus on the forest areas at greatest risk by revising state-wide assessments of need (AONs). This effort will reduce the size of AONs as a percentage of a participating state's total forested acres and permit more targeted acquisitions.

Action taken, but not completed FS is analyzing GIS shape files of completed FLP projects to assess how well they are targeted in terms of proximity, ecosystem function, economic benefits, or other linkages. The agency requested GIS shape files from States by May 31, 2008. In addition, the FS is working with U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities to explore opportunities to map conservation easements.
2005

Refine performance measures and revise project selection criteria to reflect the results of previous acquisitions within participating states by rewarding those that most efficiently protect their forests threatened with conversion to nonforest uses.

Action taken, but not completed The FY2008 project selection scoring guidance was revised to incorporate the FLP Strategic Direction priorities, including a goal focusing on linking FLP projects with past acquisitions

Completed Program Improvement Plans

Year Began Improvement Plan Status Comments
2004

In response to initial PART findings, the program has developed a strategic plan that utilizes forest inventory data and articulates national goals and objectives. With its development, the program can identify issues and trends affecting forests in regions across the country and use this information to guide development of long-term goals and annual priorities that meet those goals.

Completed
2004

Based on the initial assessment, the program developed suitable outcome-based performance measures. The program is now able to measure its performance by tracking the percentage of priority forest lands at risk of conversion to non-forest uses that are maintained in contiguous forest.

Completed
2004

The program now measures the cost per acre of environmentally important forest protected and, as a result, can track unit costs based upon actual title conveyance transactions and program obligations.

Completed
2004

In response to initial findings that the program did not have adequate transparency and protection against potential abuse, the program revamped its guidelines and its direction in the annual proposal evaluation process. The program will now be able to better safeguard taxpayer interests by minimizing potential conflicts of interests with non-governmental grant recipients and preclude the use of other federal funds or loans by recipients in matching program investments.

Completed

Program Performance Measures

Term Type  
Annual Output

Measure: Acres of land adjustments to conserve the integrity of undeveloped lands and habitat quality.


Explanation:The agency provides goods and services--such as recreation, clean water and air, and a land heritage--through the FLP, which protects forests from conversion to other uses that do not provide these goods or services.

Year Target Actual
2002 Baseline 92,614
2003 175,099 129,219
2004 300,000 563,183
2005 220,000 46,136
2006 230,000 361,467
2007 125,000 88,091
2008 107,000
2009 13,600
Long-term Output

Measure: Parcelization of forests avoided (parcels prevented). (Baseline and targets under development).


Explanation:Habitat integrity is enhances with larger landbases. Wildland conservation occurs over the long-term with landownerships remaining static and owners not electing development or conversion options. The agency continues to work with State partners on how to calculate these measures. The agency expects that by mid-2006 baselines and targets will be available.

Year Target Actual
2006 Baseline 19,342
2007 1,000 2,880
2008 4,600
2009 730
2010 300
2011 300
2012 300
Long-term Outcome

Measure: Percentage of private forest acres in priority areas that are protected from conversion to non-forest uses by the Forest Legacy Program. (Baseline and targets under development).


Explanation:The FLP seeks to minimize conversion of private forest lands to non-forest uses development). Forest landowners make the choice of enrolling in FLP and thereby ensuring protection of their forest lands. The agency continues to work with State partners on how to calculate these measures. The agency expects that by mid-2006 baselines and targets will be available.

Year Target Actual
2007 Baseline .75%
2008 .8%
2009 .81%
2010 .81%
2011 .81%
2012 .81%
Annual Output

Measure: Number of perpetual conservation easements.


Explanation:FLP obtains tracts of private forest land easements for conservation purposes and to minimize likelihood of conversion to nonforest uses.

Year Target Actual
2004 Baseline 33
2005 46 40
2006 33 40
2007 40 25
2008 26
2009 7
Annual Output

Measure: Number of fee simple purchases (number of tracts purchased).


Explanation:FLP obtains tracts of private forest land easements for conservation purposes and to minimize likelihood of conversion to nonforest uses.

Year Target Actual
2004 Baseline 14
2005 14 12
2006 10 22
2007 13 21
2008 11
2009 4
Annual Efficiency

Measure: Total FLP cost or expenditure per acre protected from conversion.


Explanation:FLP obtains tracts of private forest land easements for conservation purposes and to minimize likelihood of conversion to nonforest uses. When non-governmental organizational partners participate in land purchases, the economies of those purchases can be reduced.

Year Target Actual
2004 Baseline $132
2005 $291 $1,031
2006 $259 $303
2007 $475 $541
2008 $489
2009 $625
Long-term Efficiency

Measure: Average length of time between project proposal, funding and completion.


Explanation:FLP efficiencies in the land purchase process are enhanced through the use of nongovernmental partners.

Year Target Actual
2004 Baseline 26 Mo
2005 24 Mo 26 Mo
2006 24 Mo 31 Mo
2007 24 Mo 31 Mo
2008 24 Mo
2009 24 Mo
2010 24 Mo
2011 24 Mo
2012 24 Mo

Questions/Answers (Detailed Assessment)

Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design
Number Question Answer Score
1.1

Is the program purpose clear?

Explanation: The Forest Legacy program (FLP) was designed to identify and protect environmentally important private forestlands that are threatened by conversion to nonforest uses. Land acquisition is conducted to protect important scenic, cultural, fish, wildlife and recreation resources, riparian areas and other ecological values using conservation easements and full fee purchase. Both purchase and donation are used to acquire forestland meeting FLP purposes from willing sellers or donors only.

Evidence: 16 U.S.C. 2130c et. seq. authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to provide financial, technical, educational, and related assistance to States, communities and private forest landowners. Authorized activities include forest land protection and the protection of important scenic, cultural, fish, wildlife, and recreational resources, riparian areas, and other ecological values. 16 U.S.C. 2103c(a). The Secretary is authorized, at the request of a participating State, to make a grant to a State to carry out the FLP in the State, including the acquisition by the State of lands and interests in land. 16 U.S.C 2103c(l). See also Forest Service Handbook (FSH) 6509.11g,24.1 and FY 2004 Budget Justification.

YES 20%
1.2

Does the program address a specific and existing problem, interest or need?

Explanation: The FLP was established to help prevent the fragmentation, parcelization and loss of private forestland and to encourage good management of those lands. Forest fragmentation, especially from land use conversion from forest to non-forest uses, can impact sustainable forest management. The pressures to convert private forests to development and other nonforest uses is great across many areas of the country. Expanding settlement into rural areas, changing land ownership dynamics and sprawling development patterns and expanding second home development into wild areas can change management options of those lands, can reduce the amount of forest resources available for the production of forest goods and alter their capacity to deliver associated environmental services.

Evidence: The 9.9 million non-industrial private forest landowners control approximately 393,000 acres or 48 percent of the Nation's forests, but less than 10 percent of those owners have written forest management plans. The average ownership is about 20 acres and is projected to be about 16 by 2010 (Birch, 1996). According to Natural Resources Conservation Service's National Resource Inventory over 10 million acres of forestland were converted to development between 1982 and 1997 (NRI, 1997). This equates to over 670,000 acres per year. FLP requires that forest be acquired only in focused areas of private forest, known as Forest Legacy Areas, that are determined through analysis and public input to be the most important forest areas and the ones most threatened (Cooperative Forestry Assistance act of 1978 (16 U.S.C. 2103c et seq.)).

YES 20%
1.3

Is the program designed so that it is not redundant or duplicative of any other Federal, state, local or private effort?

Explanation: The FLP is a unique federal land conservation program. It is the only federal program that focuses on forest land and aims to ensure that traditional forest uses of private lands and the public benefits are protected for future generations. Although a number of States have land conservation programs that can acquire forestland and many non-profit organizations, including land trusts, acquire forest land, few reach beyond the purchase of forest habitat. The FLP is designed to retain "working forest" areas with requirements toward management of the land. This uniqueness has resulted in FLP being a program that acts as a catalyst for land conservation partnerships between Federal, State and Local governments and non-governmental organizations.

Evidence: The FLP fills a niche in land conservation. It is targeted toward the compatibility between maintaining working forests that provide a benefit to the private citizen and to securing public benefits for the long term. Other conservation programs protect forest area and habitats, but do not provide for the maintenance of the working forested landscape.

YES 20%
1.4

Is the program design free of major flaws that would limit the program's effectiveness or efficiency?

Explanation: The Forest Legacy Program regional oversight structure is ill-equipped to manage growing project funding and State participation. The current Forest Service strategy for implementing the Forest Legacy Program does not lend itself to nationally prioritizing projects. The Forest Service's financial accounting system provides incomplete obligation and expenditure information on the Forest Legacy Program, resulting in the inability to accurately evaluate the use of Forest Legacy funds.

Evidence: Report of the Surveys and Investigations Staff on the Forest Legacy Program to the House Committee on Appropriations, June 2002 (S&I Report). The Forest Service Manual, a central element of the agency's directives system, lacks any reference to the FLP, its objectives, or its goals. See also the FY 2003 conference report to accompany H.J.Res. 2, H.Rpt. 108-10, pps. 1008-1009.

NO 0%
1.5

Is the program effectively targeted, so that resources will reach intended beneficiaries and/or otherwise address the program's purpose directly?

Explanation: All FLP projects must occur within designated high priority regions of each participating State known as Forest Legacy Areas. These areas are delineated through an analysis of resource and economic data to arrive at Eligibility Criteria used to select target areas. These areas are confirmed through a public paticipation process. Individual projects are prioritized by the State through an interdisciplinary board known as the State Forest Stewardship Coordinating Committee in accordance with their Assessment of Need plan for the State and are advanced to the Forest Service for selection using national criteria that reflect national program goals. FLP funds for selected projects are provided to willing sellers.

Evidence: All FLP projects are done in areas targeted by the State as high priority for private forestland conservation and accomplished through challenge costshare with multiple partners. Projects must demonstrate significant public benefits exist, are threatened by conversion, are strategic in that they play into a broader conservation plan or initiative and must be sufficiently ready to warrant federal investment. (FLP Project Selection Policy- FY 2004 from S&FP Deputy Chief dated July 31, 2002.). Taken together these indicate that a project must link to program purposes and have clearly identified willing sellers.

YES 20%
Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design Score 80%
Section 2 - Strategic Planning
Number Question Answer Score
2.1

Does the program have a limited number of specific long-term performance measures that focus on outcomes and meaningfully reflect the purpose of the program?

Explanation: FLP has developed an outcome-based measure that directly ties to the Forest Service strategic plan and demonstrates the extent to which FLP is protecting public benefits provided by private forests and aiding in the prevention of parcelization, thus conserving contiguous forest areas. The FLP has initiated development of program strategic direction. The private forest characterization of the document will be useful to identify watersheds across the country that have high resource value and are the most threatened by development. Additional outcome-based measures are under developed and will be measured annually. The FLP has developed efficiency measures in this process that will be refined this year and implemented over the next several years.

Evidence: USDA Forest Service Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2004 - 2008, goal 6, measure 6.3a. Cooperative Forestry Strategic Plan FY 2002 - 2007. FLP Strategic Direction Overview. Forest Legacy Program: Working Forests, Partnerships, Watershed Protection Program Specific Outcomes: Landowner Assistance. FY 2005 Budget Justification FLP Narrative and Project List. The FLP is currently implementing outcome-based measures as part of its Performance Measurement Accountability System (PMAS) released June 2003. Forest Service Region 10 is leading a national accountability and performance measurement system development effort. Each program has a Activity-Business Plan that includes an overall outcome measure, additional contributing outcome measures, output measures, demand measures and efficiency measures. This document suggests a key outcome goal for FLP is protecting all important private forest acres threatened by development or conversion to non-forest uses.

YES 12%
2.2

Does the program have ambitious targets and timeframes for its long-term measures?

Explanation: Although the Forest Service has established efficiency measures and can track the total number of acres acquired through the Forest Legacy Program, it has not set targets or timeframes for its long-term measure, the percentage of private forest acres in Forest Legacy areas that are protected from conversion to non-forest uses by the Forest Legacy Program.

Evidence: USDA Forest Service Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2004 - 2008, goal 6, measure 6.3a. Cooperative Forestry Strategic Plan FY 2002 - 2007. FLP Strategic Direction Overview. FY 2005 Budget Justification FLP Narrative and Project List.

NO 0%
2.3

Does the program have a limited number of specific annual performance measures that can demonstrate progress toward achieving the program's long-term goals?

Explanation: The Forest Service has established efficiency measures relating to costs and timing. These measures are quantifiable and will be tracted annually. Annual targets are developed through a methodology that integrates past program performance and cost per acre of accomplishments to project annual targets and future year outcomes. The FLP released revised program guidelines last year that articulate national criteria for the selection of projects. Those criteria and additional selection factors include the extent of public benefit derived from the project such as working forest continuation, habitat protection and watershed/water supply protection; the degree of threat to conversion to non-forest uses that exists on the property; the strategic nature of the proposed acquisition to a larger conservation effort or initiative; and the degree that the project is ready for federal investment such a having a signed option, a completed appraisal that can meet federal appraisal standards and the presence of a monitoring baseline.

Evidence: USDA Forest Service Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2004 - 2008, goal 6, measure 6.3a. Program Specific Outcomes: Landowner Assistance. Report to the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives on the FLP, Surveys and Investigations Staff, June 2002 Forest Service Response To House Report, May 2003 The FLP is currently implementing outcome-based measures as part of its Performance Measurement Accountability System (PMAS) released June 2003. FLP Program Effectiveness/Assessment Study by Northwest Economic Associates.

YES 12%
2.4

Does the program have baselines and ambitious targets for its annual measures?

Explanation: The FLP accomplishments for FY 2005 are nearly four times the baseline annual accomplishment. In FY 2003, FLP protected 128,349 acres of important forestland from conversion to non-forest uses. The target for FY 2004 is 300,000 acres of land protected. Based on the FY 2005 President's Budget, 450,000 acres are estimated for protection. The FLP provides specific output measures in Congressional Justifications each year.

Evidence: FLP Strategic Direction Overview. FY 2005 Budget Justification FLP Narrative and Project List.

YES 12%
2.5

Do all partners (including grantees, sub-grantees, contractors, cost-sharing partners, and other government partners) commit to and work toward the annual and/or long-term goals of the program?

Explanation: The FLP is implemented through State agency partners, in collaboration with local land trusts and other non-profit organizations such as the Trust for Public Land, the Conservation Fund and the Nature Conservancy all working to accomplish their organizational goals and in support of the Agency's annual and long-term goals. States develop an Assessment of Need (AON) to qualify for particpation in the program. The AON outlines the Forest Legacy Area - areas that the state will focus implementation of the program on and the areas that applications will be accepted from landowners for protection/conservation consideration. States develop their AON based on the program guideleines and determine focus areas based on analysis of data to determine the most important private forests, those that are most threatened by conversion and, therefore, the most strategic forest proioritiy areas. States work with non-profit partners to accomplish projects that meet the goals and objectives of the state as expresed in their AON and all projects are only funded if they meet all of the national criteria for funding.

Evidence: 2003 Michigan State FLP Assessment of Need. FLP Connecticut Lakes Headwaters project information The FLP authorizing legislation Report to the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives on the FLP, Surveys and Investigations Staff, June 2002 Forest Service Response To House Report, May 2003.

YES 12%
2.6

Are independent evaluations of sufficient scope and quality conducted on a regular basis or as needed to support program improvements and evaluate effectiveness and relevance to the problem, interest, or need?

Explanation: Within the last five years, the FLP has had periodic evaluations at all levels and has undergone several independent assessments or investigations. The FLP conducts programs reviews of State programs that includes assessments of program management, financial management and partnership relations. These are conducted by teams of Forest Service, State and other partners. Each review team is composed of members that have oversight responsibility and includes others who are independent of that State's operations. The Forest Service conducts regional program reviews using the same approach for each region at least every five years. The program has undergone an independent survey by OIG in 2000 and an investigation by the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives in 2002.

Evidence: Reports are on file for State program reviews. The Forest Service Washington Office conducted a review of Region 6 in 2002 and currently reviewing the program in Region 3 and has scheduled a review of the Northeastern Area in the fall of 2003. USDA OIG review memo dated November 22, 2000. A report to the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives on the U.S. Forest Service Forest Legacy Program, Surveys and Investigations staff, June 2002.

YES 12%
2.7

Are Budget requests explicitly tied to accomplishment of the annual and long-term performance goals, and are the resource needs presented in a complete and transparent manner in the program's budget?

Explanation: Although it has progressed on important budget and work-plan systems, the Forest Service has not established linkages between these components of a performance accountability system with its strategic goals and performance results. Until this linkage occurs, the agency will be unable to report how its activities were accomplished at a given cost in an integrated, results-oriented manner.

Evidence: GAO Performance Accountability Report, May 2003. FY 2004 Budget Justification.

NO 0%
2.8

Has the program taken meaningful steps to correct its strategic planning deficiencies?

Explanation: The FLP completed development of a five-year program strategic direction that articulates national goals, objectives, and some performance measures, and that identifiesissues and trends affecting forests in regions across the country.

Evidence: Report to the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives on the FLP, Surveys and Investigations Staff, June 2002 Forest Service Response To House Report, May 2003 FLP Strategic Direction Overview. Forest Legacy Program: Working Forests, Partnerships, Watershed Protection Program Specific Outcomes: Landowner Assistance.

YES 12%
Section 2 - Strategic Planning Score 75%
Section 3 - Program Management
Number Question Answer Score
3.1

Does the agency regularly collect timely and credible performance information, including information from key program partners, and use it to manage the program and improve performance?

Explanation: State and Private Forestry collects annual accomplishment data from States and other program implementation partners through a Performance Measurement Accountability System. The FLP also has developed and maintains a Forest Legacy Information System that tracts project status and accomplishment including participation and input by all partners.

Evidence: Output reports for the Performance Measurement Accountability System (PMAS). Forest Legacy Information System database (FLIS).

YES 10%
3.2

Are Federal managers and program partners (including grantees, sub-grantees, contractors, cost-sharing partners, and other government partners) held accountable for cost, schedule and performance results?

Explanation: All agency line officer performance standards and evaluation criteria include requirements on GPRA goals and objectives, and the attainment of annual performance targets. States conduct projects via a grant from the agency. The grant agreement outlines performance standards and requires periodic status reporting in order to obtain funding and be reimbursed for expenditures.

Evidence: Line Officer Annual Evaluation and Performance Standards; grant agreement files and status reports.

YES 10%
3.3

Are funds (Federal and partners') obligated in a timely manner and spent for the intended purpose?

Explanation: FLP grant funds are allocated to the field units in accordance with a Program Direction that articulates specific amounts to be expended on program management and administration and for individual projects. Appropriated funds are allocated to field units as soon as possible.

Evidence: FY 2003 FLP Program Direction; FFIS and Fund Control reports.

YES 10%
3.4

Does the program have procedures (e.g. competitive sourcing/cost comparisons, IT improvements, appropriate incentives) to measure and achieve efficiencies and cost effectiveness in program execution?

Explanation: The program has taken a number of actions to improve efficiency. As a result of the previous PART evaluation, the agency developed additional efficiency measures and has instituted a project selection process that focuses on the readiness of projects. These new measures, including costs per acre, used in concert with a selection process that focuses on project readiness, will reduce the time between project identification and completion.

Evidence: FY 2003 Program Direction; Budget Execution Documents; FSM and FSH.

YES 10%
3.5

Does the program collaborate and coordinate effectively with related programs?

Explanation: The FLP is a cooperative program implemented through partnerships between the Forest Service and State lead agencies along with local governments, private landowners and non-governmental organizations. Almost all FLP projects funded in FY 2003 and those proposed for FY 2004 reflect Forest Service and State partnership with land trusts, community groups or local governments and their agencies. All FLP projects are reviewed and recommended by State Forest Stewardship Coordinating Committees, public-private partnership entities consisting of members who have a stake in forests and forestry in that State. Only projects that are developed and supported by a collaborative process are eligible. The FLP coordinates with other FS programs such as Forest Stewardship, Land and Water Conservation Fund and with other federal programs such as the NRCS Farmland Protection Program and U.S Fish and Wildlife's North America Wetland Conservation Act Program.

Evidence: State Assessment of Need documents demonstrate strategic application and contain the State Forest Stewardship members and their affiliation. FLP Project Briefing Sheets containing details about each project and the partnerships that are involved to accomplish the project. As of May 8, 2003 FLP has conserved almost 353,000 acres with an estimated value of about $199,000,000 through a federal investment of $94,000,000. This leverage is the result of collaborative participation by states and non-governmental entities. Examples of collaborative projects in FY 2003 include a CT project in which 8 separate landowners, but abutting properties will work cooperatively to jointly protect over 706 acres in a watershed area. A GA project will protect 5600 acres with the participation of a state land protection program and landowner donation that will allow bring a non-federal match 50%. State develop and maintain MOUs with non-profit organizations to conduct monitoring and management functions on the land.

YES 10%
3.6

Does the program use strong financial management practices?

Explanation: While the Forest Service received an unqualified opinion in FY 2002 and FY 2003, it has material weakness in agency financial management. USDA's Office of Inspector General to concluded that the Forest Service "is not operate an an effective, sustainable, and accountable financial management organization, as evidenced by the restatement of the fiscal year 2002 financial statements and the extensive ad hoc effort to achieve the fiscal year 2003 unqualified audit opinion." The Forest Service's FY 2003 opinion occured only after 6,000 adjustments with an absolute value of $1.3 billion were made by the agency after the end of FY 2003. The agency's Performance Attainment Report had to be restated to reflect a reduction of $505 million in the agency's FY 2002 end-of-year unobligated balances. For FY 2004, the Forest Service Program Direction to the field provides financial instructions and targeted accomplishment requirements.

Evidence: FY 2002 and FY 2003 Performance Attainment Report. GAO high-risk list. FY 2002- FY 2004 SF-133s.

NO 0%
3.7

Has the program taken meaningful steps to address its management deficiencies?

Explanation: FLP regional program managers develop review teams composed of regional, national and other state participants to conduct program and financial management reviews. The Washington Office conducts regional program and general management reviews with every region on a five-year cycle. The agency has hired dedicated program management staff to increase the oversight and service delivery functions. Regions conduct periodic (semi-annual or annual) meetings with all State program managers to discuss program management issues and policies. An annual national meeting is held to focus on program management issues and policy options to address them. FLP has received extensive program management direction in P.L. 108-7 and the corresponding conference report. The program also received a extensive direction through the finding outlined in the House Committee on Appropriations Surveys and Investigations Staff report.

Evidence: State FLP Review reports, Management Review reports, Program managers meeting minutes. The agency has developed a formal response to the House Committee on Appropriations on the S&I Staff report. This report takes an action-oriented approach that outlines the issues raised and actions that the agency has taken and commits to take to address the issues. The agency has already taken action regarding these findings in the areas of project selection, appraisal review, appropriate staffing, program implementation guidelines revision to address issues raised in the report and articulated in appropriations bill language, cost share calculation and grant management procedures. FLP Project Selection Policy- FY 2004 from S&FP Deputy Chief dated July 31, 2002.

YES 10%
3.CO1

Are grants awarded based on a clear competitive process that includes a qualified assessment of merit?

Explanation: FLP is a competitive grants program. Projects are submitted to States annually via a request for applications or open application process. State Forest Stewardship Committees review and rank all proposals based on selection factors or criteria. The FS conducts a regional review and projects are selected based on national criteria and additional selection factors used to comply with congressional direction and program goals by a national panel of Forest Service and State members.

Evidence: States outline selection factors or criteria in State Assessments of Need. The Forest employs national criteria and additional selection factors derived from the authorizing legislation, congressional direction and program management goals. In FY 2003, 94% of the funds appropriated are allocated to land acquisition projects. Approximately 6% are allocated to program management functions and activities to support the program. OMB direction to develop a list of specific projects detailing the full expenditure of projected budget amounts like in Land and Water Conservation Fund helps to drive a competitive process that has resulted in reduced congressional earmarking. FLP Project Selection Policy- FY 2004 from S&FP Deputy Chief dated July 31, 2002.

YES 10%
3.CO2

Does the program have oversight practices that provide sufficient knowledge of grantee activities?

Explanation: Grants management and oversight is conducted by fiscal staff and by program management staff. Every region has dedicated grants and agreement specialists that provide oversight and processing assistance. Program management staff has been expanded to additional dedicated staff in the Northeastern Area, dedicated staff for Region 1 and 4 and another for Regions 5/6/10 and additional staff in headquarters. Grants tracking is conducted via the payment system of the region issuing the grant (HHS or NFC systems). Regions supplement systems with data base records for program management operations. Semi annual activity and progress reports are required for all grants. Program managers conduct field reviews with States and other partners to ensure performance and timely outcomes.

Evidence: FFIS reports. Field Review reports. Internal audits. FLP Project Selection Policy- FY 2004 from S&FP Deputy Chief dated July 31, 2002.

YES 10%
3.CO3

Does the program collect grantee performance data on an annual basis and make it available to the public in a transparent and meaningful manner?

Explanation: FLP collects annual performance data via its Performance Measurement and Accountability System. This data is compiled, analysis and reported to Forest Service regions and States, but it is not available to the general public. FLP has a Forest Legacy Information System that tracts every funded project's progress. It is available only to those who request a password. Data on project and funding details are available. General accomplishment reporting, project selection results and use of funds percentages are distributed widely and are accessible on the web site.

Evidence: FS grant management database (availability limited). FLIS and PMAS databases. Forest Service web site.

NO 0%
Section 3 - Program Management Score 80%
Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability
Number Question Answer Score
4.1

Has the program demonstrated adequate progress in achieving its long-term performance goals?

Explanation: Although FLP has made some limited progress in establishing and achieving long-term program goals, the focusing of acquisitions within priority areas--the "Assessment of Need" (AON) areas-- that are in general a limited portion of a given state's forested land base. Within many AONs, much of the program's conservation easement acquisitions is targeted at the "edges" of development, an effort that leverages state, local, and non-governmental actions that maintain contiguous forests by checking "paths" of development. In other AONs, projects maintain working forests, and by so doing, keeps in place economically viable uses of forests that mitigate the economic conversion of those forests to non-forest uses. However, the program's effectiveness will be better known only once a baseline of information is developed that more fully measures the percentage of priority forest lands at risk of conversion to non-forest uses that are maintained in contiguous forest. Additional programmatic long-term goals are under development as described in 2.1 - 2.4.

Evidence: USDA Forest Service Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2004 - 2008 FY 2005 Budget Justification FLP Narrative and Project List. The FY 2003 Performance and Accountability Report (draft April 2004). May 2003 FS Response to House S&I Report, June 2002. FLP Project Selection Policy- FY 2004 from S&FP Deputy Chief dated July 31, 2002.

SMALL EXTENT 7%
4.2

Does the program (including program partners) achieve its annual performance goals?

Explanation: Annual performance goals are established based on budget availability and with a methodology to project performance into the future. Forest Legacy projects take an average of 12-18 months to complete. Due to normal real estate transaction time frames, a time lag factor exists between appropriation year and accomplishment year. Funding in FY 2002 and FY 2003 are now beginning to demonstrate accelerated accomplishment results. However, delays in funding allocations to the field can result in missed targets. Though the agency did not achieve its targets for FY 2003, it should be noted that during the first month of FY 2004 a total of 161,507 acres closed by October 12. Many of these projects were expected to close in FY 2003, but missed that goal by two weeks. The agency exceeded its FY 2004 target by 263,186 acres.

Evidence: USDA Forest Service Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2004 - 2008 FY 2005 Budget Justification FLP Narrative and Project List. The FY 2003 Performance and Accountability Report (draft April 2004).

LARGE EXTENT 13%
4.3

Does the program demonstrate improved efficiencies or cost effectiveness in achieving program goals each year?

Explanation: The program has taken a number of actions to improve efficiency and to respond to criticism of program management functions. The program has instituted a project selection process criteria that focuses on the readiness of projects. Readiness is indicated along a gradient from State approval and early negotiations to signed purchase option or agreement to a completed appraisal and easement. This focus on preference to projects that have undergone additional due diligence will continue to and has shortened the time between funding and accomplishment. Also, the FS has expanded its program administration funding to States to allow them the flexibility to conduct due diligence steps with potential projects so as to increase the level of certainty that a selected project will be successfully completed and in a shorter time frame. The program has expanded dedicated staff to maximize attention and oversight on program management and to more quickly address partner's needs and to reduce costs.

Evidence: FLP project selection criteria. FY 2003 Program Direction. May 2003 FS Response to House S&I Report, June 2002. FLP Project Selection Policy- FY 2004 from S&FP Deputy Chief dated July 31, 2002.

LARGE EXTENT 13%
4.4

Does the performance of this program compare favorably to other programs, including government, private, etc., with similar purpose and goals?

Explanation: FLP performs very well when compared to other land conservation programs. FLP is efficient in getting maximum funds to the field to produce acquisitions. The program has enjoyed excellent leveraging of federal resources to produce acquisitions. In independent evaluations from OIG, GAO, The House Committee on Appropriations and through congressional oversight, FLP compares favorably with other government and private programs.

Evidence: NRCS Farmland Protection Program, NAWCA, LWCF,OIG Review report on the Forest Legacy Program 11-22-2000, A Report to the Committee on Appropriations U.S. House of Representatives on the U.S. Forest Service Forest Legacy Program, Surveys and Investigations Staff, June 2002.

YES 20%
4.5

Do independent evaluations of sufficient scope and quality indicate that the program is effective and achieving results?

Explanation: This program has undergone independent evaluations from OIG, GAO, The House Committee on Appropriations and through congressional oversight. These investigations and surveys have identified issues and needs for improvement in specific areas, but have all come to indicate that the program is administered consistent with applicable guidelines whose strength and success to date are based on its partnerships and its cooperative implementation of projects that maintain the working landscape. Its effectiveness could be better appreciated with the adoption of adequate performance measures, which could include the percentage of priority forest lands at risk of conversion to non-forest uses maintained in contiguous forest. In addition, the agency has committed to the Congress that the FLP will undergo periodic independent reviews of the program's management, efficiency, and effectivness.

Evidence: OIG Review report on the Forest Legacy Program 11-22-2000, A Report to the Committee on Appropriations U.S. House of Representatives on the U.S. Forest Service Forest Legacy Program, Surveys and Investigations Staff, June 2002.

YES 20%
Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability Score 73%


Last updated: 09062008.2004SPR