We reviewed the CDF's investigation of the misuse of Federal Excess Personal Property (FEPP) and found:
Results in Brief
The Aviation Management Unit of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) operates and maintains a fleet of aircraft used in providing fire protection for approximately 36 million acres of publicly and privately owned wildlands. To meet some of its equipment needs, the CDF borrows federal excess personal property (FEPP) from the federal government through the U.S. Forest Service. The CDF began borrowing FEPP, primarily unneeded military equipment, in the mid-seventies as a way to obtain its own fleet of aircraft and spare parts at no cost. The CDF agrees to use the property primarily for fire protection and to secure and return the property when it is no longer needed.
In November 1992, numerous allegations were made dating back to 1982. The allegations involved a variety of issues, including potential theft and misuse of FEPP aircraft and aircraft parts. The State Resources Agency and the CDF investigated the allegations, and the CDF summarized the findings in a report issued in February 1994.
We reviewed the CDF investigation of 28 allegations. The CDF determined that no action was called for in 5 of the allegations because 4 of the alleged events did not violate any law or regulation and the fifth event happened so long ago that verifiable information was not available. For 20 allegations, the CDF did the following:
However, for three allegations, the CDF determined that its employees did not comply with state or federal regulations but concluded no further action was warranted because the activities benefited the State. Regardless, the CDF is not relieved of following federal or state requirements even though the State may benefit.
Additionally, we reviewed the CDF's internal controls over the acquisition, disposal, loan, security, and physical inventory count of FEPP to evaluate if these controls adequately protect FEPP. We found the following problems in the CDF's internal controls:
Failure to follow the federal regulations for property management of FEPP related to these conditions may result in the suspension of the state FEPP program. Without the program, the CDF would have to purchase aircraft and related parts and equipment at a significant increase in cost to meet its needs in providing fire protection services. Also, FEPP items lost, stolen, or misplaced may go undetected.
The CDF needs to exercise more oversight in administering the FEPP program by complying with state and federal regulations. Additionally, it should follow the federal requirement to perform a physical inventory of accountable FEPP, and it should reconcile its records with the U.S. Forest Service records at least once every two years. Finally, the CDF should maintain accurate equipment records and appropriately tag and safeguard FEPP.
The CDF generally concurs with the findings and recommendations in the report. The CDF believes the report substantially confirms the results of the prior investigations of the allegations and is hopeful that our findings will assist in bringing closure to these issues. Further, the CDF states that in some areas it has improved its control over state and federal property and in other areas is taking steps to improve its control.