What's measured improves: Fee spending

General discussions on hiking in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest
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chrisca
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Joined: January 22nd, 2010, 10:48 am

What's measured improves: Fee spending

Post by chrisca » September 9th, 2018, 7:45 am

There's an oft-repeated maxim in the worlds of business and Total Quality Management that if you want something to improve, measure it, track it, and report it. In October 2016, I put together a set of indicators for the Forest Service's performance on recreation fee spending and started to share it with the agency and publish it. Lo and behold, things are starting to change.
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CRGNSA Spending Disparity.JPG
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I will continue to update and publish this information. I think we ought to do the same for trail mileage on federal and state lands in Oregon. We will likely see some interesting changes as a result. As far as I can tell, no one is keeping track of that kind of data. I've done a lot of looking and can't find anything.

We'll likely see a big spending bump because of recovery work after the Eagle Creek Fire. The Forest Service may try to return to their old ways once that work tapers off. But this time, we'll be watching.
Last edited by chrisca on September 9th, 2018, 8:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

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retired jerry
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Re: What's measured improves: Fee spending

Post by retired jerry » September 9th, 2018, 8:17 am

thanks

that makes sense that the forest service would change if presented with data.

you must have quality management experience. I did that for a couple years. It can be very productive. It seems like people overlook it though, don't give a lot of respect to that field

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Bosterson
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Re: What's measured improves: Fee spending

Post by Bosterson » September 9th, 2018, 8:36 am

Those are some good charts, Chris. (I always appreciate you aggregating the data for us!) However, the conclusion I'd draw is that spending in the Gorge has been in a steady decline up until the fire spiked the numbers last fall. Given 2017 as an outlier, I don't think these data demonstrate any kind of change in Forest Service priorities. There is a slight uptick in overall NW region spending last year, but last year was a bad fire year generally, and the Gorge fire would also contribute to the "overall" spending amount (unless that figure is controlled to exclude Gorge numbers, but it didn't seem like it).

Comparing spending to revenue as a percentage also may skew the overall picture if revenue has been increasing due to population growth and/or increasing usership among the existing population. In such a case, spending as a percentage of revenue would decrease steadily even if the annual spending budget remains constant (which I would consider the likely interpretation). Certainly it does seem clear that the Forest Service banks any extra revenue from the Forest Pass rather than using it to do more work, but their ability to increase annual spending could also be limited by finite manpower, etc., especially if their staffing levels are limited congressionally, or something like that.

It would be neat to see the spending as percentage of revenue graph superimposed with annual spending and revenue dollar amounts on the opposite y-axis. (And why in 2005 dollars rather than 2017 dollars?) Then it might be clearer whether spending itself is going down or revenues are going up. I would do it, but I'm typing this from my phone, and I'll bet you already have the numbers at your fingertips! :D
Will hike off trail for fun.

chrisca
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Re: What's measured improves: Fee spending

Post by chrisca » September 9th, 2018, 8:50 am

Actually, the 2017 spending figure doesn't include much, if any, fire related spending. The progress report shows other projects worked on, but nothing related to the fire: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DO ... 578962.pdf
Because all the trails were closed, there wasn't any significant activity related to fee program activity.

I chose 2005 dollars because that's when the fee program started. I'll consider changing it, but the result is that every year all the numbers for prior years need to be converted instead of just the current year's figures.

If the other chart format you suggested looks good, I'll post it.
Bosterson wrote:
September 9th, 2018, 8:36 am
Those are some good charts, Chris. (I always appreciate you aggregating the data for us!) However, the conclusion I'd draw is that spending in the Gorge has been in a steady decline up until the fire spiked the numbers last fall. Given 2017 as an outlier, I don't think these data demonstrate any kind of change in Forest Service priorities. There is a slight uptick in overall NW region spending last year, but last year was a bad fire year generally, and the Gorge fire would also contribute to the "overall" spending amount (unless that figure is controlled to exclude Gorge numbers, but it didn't seem like it).
...

chrisca
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Re: What's measured improves: Fee spending

Post by chrisca » September 9th, 2018, 8:54 am

retired jerry wrote:
September 9th, 2018, 8:17 am
you must have quality management experience. I did that for a couple years. It can be very productive. It seems like people overlook it though, don't give a lot of respect to that field
I do indeed. Along with my colleagues, we made a few billion dollars (that's not a typo) for my former employer as a result of implementing tracking systems to monitor and improve quality. It made me a believer of their value. Government needs more of them. I wish I had a foundation that could do this work because there's a lot of opportunity out there.

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Water
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Re: What's measured improves: Fee spending

Post by Water » September 10th, 2018, 10:05 am

put a 'triggered' gif in here for my reaction.

Thank you for your work on this. I don't have the expertise or equanimity to approach this. You could try to compile some trail mileage information, for a number of years each national forest unit (especially when the program debuted) highlighted (in fact it was the primary metric advertised) how many trail miles were maintained/cleared/built (if special project), etc. Then at some point that moved to page 2. And then at some point it was dropped entirely and the 'where does your money go' highlighted privys built, boat ramps, critters in the cracks puppet show (not a joke), and special use permits issued (like for snowshoe races, trail runs, guided trips, etc.. ie things I would expect are FS duties, fee program or not.).
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