Where We Are Going

People

We are partnering with Human Resources Management to improve recruitment and retention of employees; developing and expanding training resources including academies and task books for career advancement; addressing qualification disparities in the forester and forestry technician series; and increasing the capacity of existing staff through consolidation and streamlining of certifications.

Technology

We are modernizing the Timber Information Manager (TIM) application; deploying new technologies (handheld data recorders, tablets, and lasers); expanding use of geospatial and remote sensing (e.g. Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) and unmanned aerial systems) for inventory, monitoring, boundary designation and volume estimation; and partnering with the Chief Information Office to expand Wi-Fi and broadband access to forest and district offices to support digital and networking capabilities.

Business Change

We are simplifying contracts and appraisals to mitigate challenges associated with low value material and increase timber sale outputs; leveraging employee, partner, and private industry expertise to improve program and project management skills across the agency; establishing a cross-deputy working group focused on forest products markets and utilization to help us better evaluate timber sale viability and mitigate issues with low value material; and scaling up lessons learned and best practices for use of Good Neighbor Authority, stewardship agreements and designation by prescription.

Policy

We are updating our timber management directives to reflect new authorities and provide clear direction and technical guidance on new procedures; coordinating with the Environmental Analysis and Decision Making (EADM) team to streamline the integrated resource analysis, proposed action development and NEPA analysis steps of timber sale planning; and working with the Office of Regulatory Management Services to maintain a searchable, web-based agency policy library.

More details on priority actions, expected benefits and timelines for implementation are in Table 2 below.

Table 2: Action Plan FY2019-2023

Priority Action Expected Benefits When2
People    
Partner with HRM to improve recruitment and retention for foresters, forestry technicians and those with logging systems expertise: address disparities in 460 and 462 series; standardize position descriptions; develop task books to build skillsets; leverage Pathways and ACES programs for employees and mentors HIGH1 More stability within the agency for accomplishing forest management work. Improved employee well-being and job satisfaction through enhanced mechanisms for hiring, learning, and employee development FY19-20: finalize and implement approved, high-leverage actions
FY21-23: continued work 
 
Create Integrated Line Officer Academy (consolidate the current offering of 11 different courses) HIGH1 An integrated and cost-efficient approach to key responsibilities of line officers in resource management FY19-20: collaborate with HRM and other Director areas to develop proposal for Executive Leadership Team/National Leadership Council review   
FY20-21: based on ELT/NLC feedback, build course and begin offering academy
FY22-23: continue offerings
Review certification timelines and procedures for sale administrators, silviculturists, timber sale contracting officer’s representatives, and timber cruisers to increase flexibility, efficiency and effectiveness HIGH1 Streamlined procedures for ensuring the right-sized pool of qualified employees to address the growing workload associated with timber sale preparation and administration FY19-20:  finalize and vet recommendations 
FY21-22:  implement approved changes and incorporate into directives and training
Implement new timber sale administrator academy MEDIUM1 Improved sale administrator skills through an assigned mentor and on-the-ground experience administering sales with different logging systems FY19-23: annually schedule, announce, and execute academy to meet demand
Implement new logging systems training courses MEDIUM1 Increased knowledge among a variety of employees on different logging systems to better understand capabilities and limitations. Improved timber feasibility analyses when designing timber sales FY19-23: annually schedule, announce, and execute courses to meet demand
Technology    
Increase use of geospatial and remote sensing (e.g. LiDAR and UAS technologies) for resource assessments, volume estimation, and boundary designation. Consider data management infrastructure and governance implications with any new tools, including corporate database connections HIGH1 Increased speed of resource assessment, area determination and volume estimation across large landscapes at reduced cost. Timelier project assessments. Increased field crew safety FY19-20: increase the number of units testing the technology and studying cost and benefits by 5-10%
FY20-21: based on testing results, increase agency-wide application and use by 10-20%
Deploy approved technologies for timber cruising field data collection:  handheld data recorders, lasers, tablets, supporting software, and training. Consider data management infrastructure and governance implications with any new tools, including corporate database connections  MEDIUM1 Improved speed of data collection and increase data quality, which can save 30% in timber cruising time FY19-20: continue to increase use until 95-100% use is reached and maintained
Partner with the Chief Information Office to expand Wi-Fi and broadband access to units to support digital and networking capabilities necessary for modernization agency-wide MEDIUM1 Improved Wi-Fi capabilities and internet speed on rural Ranger District Offices to fully implement digital technologies FY19: prioritize offices using regional and CIO input 
FY20-23: implement in phases, using prioritized list
Business Change    
Modernize the Timber Information Manager application (TIM) and develop a new gate system/project management application that facilitates the timber sale planning process  HIGH1 Improved development and tracking of timber sales. Leverage this application to assist the field in developing timber sale contracts and executing timber sale steps from initial planning (gate 1) through sale implementation (gate 6). Decreased time spent managing timber sale preparation data FY19: charter team and develop business requirements that incorporate human-centered design principles
FY20: develop schedule for gathering user input and identifying phases of work, begin implementation 
FY20-23: implement in phases
Increase program and project management skillsets for managing the timber sale process, including the increased use of spatial analysis tools to prioritize restoration treatment areas. Ensure connections with all modernization initiatives, including environmental analysis and decision making and special uses MEDIUM1 Improved skill sets and access to tools, training and resources for building landscape treatment scenarios and efficiently managing the timber sale process; reduction in employee time and effort necessary for these steps FY19: charter team and develop recommendations 
FY20: develop schedule for gathering user input and identifying phases of work, begin implementation 
FY21-23: implement in phases
Implement a streamlined appraisal process that includes decision trees and other tools. Move toward a web-based consolidated appraisal system MEDIUM1 Reduced complexity of timber sale appraisal processes, where needed, and ensure timber sale appraisals are done efficiently and effectively commensurate with the value of the sale FY19-20: execute streamlining procedures
FY20-23: develop and launch web-based system
Establish a forest products utilization and markets cross-deputy working group MEDIUM1 Improved access to information that can help agency decision makers better understand timber sale viability by assessing and characterizing local markets and how this information can contribute to achieving timber and restoration targets and provide a sustainable timber supply to local and regional forest product industries FY19: charter team and develop recommendations
FY20: vet recommendations and begin implementation
Increase volume produced through  GNA and stewardship authorities  MEDIUM1 Implement authorities from the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills that increase efficiencies and capacity. GNA expands our ability to treat more acres by leveraging state, counties and tribal capacity FY19-23: Increase GNA volume annually with a goal of a 10-20% increase by 2023. Maintain the contribution of stewardship agreements to total volume, nationally, at 25-30%
Increase use of DxP and weight-scaling MEDIUM1 Implement authorities from the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills that increase efficiencies and capacity. DxP reduces time in preparing a timber sale (about $70/acre) and weight scaling allows sale of logs by weight FY19-23: Continue to increase use annually with a goal of a 10-20% increase agency-wide by 2023
Implement contract and permit improvements.  These include but are not limited to:  update training and tools; renumber contracts; finalize contracting mechanism decision trees; update 2400-2 and 2400-1 permit; update 2400-13/13T contract, develop web-based advertising software platform; and review stewardship contracting processes LOW1 Improved consistency, reduced complexity, and increased efficiency in developing contracts and permits. Increased flexibility in removing small amounts of timber. Simplified process for selecting most appropriate instrument to meet restoration objectives FY19-20: using partner input, finalize and implement short-term recommendations, and develop schedules and action plans for long-term needs
FY21-23: continue to implement efficiencies in phases
Review grants and agreements processes and procedures to determine if improvements are needed LOW1 Improved consistency, reduced complexity, and increased efficiency FY22: form cross-deputy team to identify potential needs for change and develop recommendations 
FY23: begin implementing approved changes
Policy    
Finish forest management directives revisions to various chapters in 15 handbooks and manuals MEDIUM1 Updated forest management directive system (manuals, handbooks and information references) to reflect new authorities, laws and regulations, and identified process efficiency improvements FY19-21
Institute an annual, repeatable process for updating and maintaining agency handbooks, manuals and information references LOW1 Reduced timeframes for incorporating necessary updates into the forest management directive system to facilitate quicker adoption agency-wide. FY21-22
Work with regulatory staff to develop and maintain a searchable, web-based agency policy library LOW1 Improved ease of use and quicker access to the most current direction FY22-23

 

1 – We will use these high, medium and low categories to assist in prioritizing actions, when necessary. All listed actions are important. The FPM team aims to complete or make significant progress on each of them, between FY19 and FY23, but this is dependent on available staff and funds. We will develop annual work plans to identify and obtain necessary resources for implementing actions. Additional actions may also be identified, as new information becomes available.

2 – See attachment 3 for more details on how we will measure progress toward goals agency-wide.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/science-technology/forest-products-modernization/where-we-are-going