Legislative Analyst's Office

Analysis of the 2000-01 Budget Bill
Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (3540)

The budget proposes $62.4 million for capital outlay for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDFFP). This amount includes $58.2 million for 49 major and $4.2 million for 11 minor projects (less than $500,000 per project) to be funded from the General Fund. With regard to the major projects, the request includes 34 projects that have previously been funded for preliminary plans and/or working drawings, 12 new projects for which preliminary plans and/or working drawings funds are proposed, 2 proposals to acquire property, and study funds for one project.

Capital Outlay Program Is Over Budget and Behind Schedule

We withhold recommendation on the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's entire capital outlay budget request pending receipt of information that (1) addresses problems in the implementation of the department's capital outlay program and (2) clearly demonstrates what steps will be taken to cure current problems with the capital outlay program. (Withhold recommendation on Item 3540-301-0001.)

Cost Overruns. The CDFFP projects shown in Figure 1 (see next page) are currently estimated by the department to cost more than when these projects were approved by the Legislature in the 1998-99 and 1999-00 Budget Acts. As shown in the figure, these projects in total are over budget by 52 percent and individual projects range from 13 percent to 135 percent over budget. (These figures are not adjusted for the impact of inflation, which ranges from 1.6 percent to 5 percent.)

No information has been provided to explain what occurred that caused the changes and cost increases for the projects in Figure 1. These significant changes raise questions on the scope and estimated construction costs of other projects in CDFFP's program, including those proposed in the Governor's budget.
Figure 1
Department of Forestry and Fire Protection

Previously Funded Projects With Increased Construction Cost Estimates

(Dollars in Thousands)
Project Original Estimatea Current Estimate Change
Amount Percent
Batterson Forest Fire Station (FFS): relocate facility $715 $1,305 $590 83%
Weaverville FFS: relocate facility 1,121 2,026 905 81
Valley Center FFS: relocate facility 1,015 1,451 436 43
Fort Jones FFS: replace facility 1,104 1,717 613 56
Sweetwater FFS: relocate facility 893 1,305 412 46
Elsinore FFS: relocate facility 909 1,525 616 68
Elk Camp FFS: relocate facility 652 1,534 882 135
Twain Hart FFS: relocate facility 1,022 1,473 451 44
Fortuna FFS: relocate facility 973 1,826 853 88
Springville FFS: relocate facility 899 1,542 643 72
Raymond FFS: relocate facility 949 1,342 393 41
Ahwahnee FFS: replace facility 918 1,496 578 63
Fenner Canyon Conservation Camp (CC): construct vehicle apparatus, replace office 1,547 2,367 820 53
Ventura Youth CC: construct vehicle apparatus building, shop, and warehouse 995 1,431 436 44
Baseline CC: remodel facility 2,981 4,124 1,143 38
Santa Clara Ranger Unit Headquarters (RUH): replace automotive shop 763 1,215 452 59
San Mateo-Santa Cruz RUH: replace automotive shop 525 923 398 76
Ukiah FFS: replace facilityb 1,291 1,886 595 46
Fortuna FFS: relocate facilityb 973 1,826 853 88
Fort Jones FFS: relocate facilityb 1,104 1,717 613 56
Weaverville FFS: relocate facilityb 1,121 2,026 905 81
Usona FFS: replace facilityb 1,333 1,309 -24 -2
Bautista Conservation Camp: replace modular buildingsb 2,469 2,787 318 13
Totals $26,945 $40,838 $13,893 52%
a Not adjusted for inflation. The first three projects in the figure were funded in 1998-99 and inflation to date has been about 5 percent. The remaining projects were funded in 1999-00 and inflation to date has been about 1.6 percent.
b The scopes of these projects have changed since they were approved by the Legislature.

Report Needed on Status of Projects. In view of the significant cost increases and scope changes discussed above, the CDFFP should report to the Legislature on the status of all projects (including acquisition) funded in the past three years. The report should include the current schedule and cost for each phase of the projects compared to the schedule and cost when the Legislature approved funding for the individual phases. The report also should identify any administrative augmentation to projects.

Recommendation. In view of the scheduling and fiscal problems identified in CDFFP's capital outlay program, we withhold recommendation on the department's capital outlay program totaling $62.4 million until it (1) addresses each of the issues discussed above and (2) can clearly demonstrate what steps will be taken to cure the current problems with the capital outlay program.

Return to Capital Outlay Table of Contents, 2000-01 Budget Analysis
Return to 2000-01 Budget Analysis Table of Contents
Return to LAO Home Page