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August 28, 2008
Reply Refer To:
1111 (WO 400) P
Information Bulletin No. 2008-104
To:             State Directors and Assistant Directors
From:         Director
Subject:     Interagency Large Fire Cost Review Process and Guidance
Wildland fire suppression costs, particularly large and complex incidents, are of considerable concern to Congress, the Office of Management and Budget, the Government Accountability Office, the public, and the agencies themselves. The Department of the Interior and U.S. Forest Service are taking comprehensive actions to address the high cost of wildland fire suppression and improve program management by increasing oversight and accountability through a large fire cost containment review process.
The National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) has developed an interagency Large Fire Cost Review Guidebook for use by all Federal wildland fire management agencies to be used for after-the-fact reviews at the local/state/regional level to identify lessons learned. This year, 2008, we will use this Guidebook within the Department of the Interior. Since it is based on Forest Service practices, we do not expect significant problems when conducting interagency cost reviews. In the coming months we will resolve any differences between Interior and Forest Service approaches to cost reviews and issue a combined Interior-Forest Service Guidebook in advance of the 2009 fire season.
An interagency large fire cost review will be conducted when an incident (single fire or fire complex) meets or exceeds the Federal combined expenditure of $10 million.
A review may also be conducted when an incident (single fire or fire complex) meets or is expected to meet one or more of the following criteria:
  • The predicted time to achieve fire management objectives exceeds 21 days.
  • There are significant political, social, natural resource, or policy concerns.
  • There are significant and complicated cost-share or multi-jurisdictional issues.
  • The affected agency requests a review. 
It is the responsibility of the agency administrator to monitor large fire cost and advise the respective agency Bureau Director, through appropriate channels, of the need for a large fire cost review. The agency Bureau Director will prepare a delegation of authority to the cost review team. (Large Fire Cost Review Guidebook, Chapter 2).  When a multi-jurisdictional fire requires a review, the local agency administrators will determine which agency will be designated as the lead in the review process.
When pulling a team(s) together, please remember the requirement that at least one person on each team must have completed the Forest Service sponsored large fire cost review training. See attached list of individuals. It is recommended that the team leader have experience interacting at the management level.
The Department of the Interior is working in concert with the Forest Service to develop a process for tracking recommendations from interagency reviews to improve internal accountability.
Please ensure this guidance is distributed throughout your organization. Please remember that this guidance only applies to fiscal accountability. For safety issue related reviews please continue to follow the 2008 Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations, chapter 18 pages 1-13.
For any questions related to this guidance, please contact Denise Schmitz, Division Chief Budget and Evaluation at the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), (208) 387-5161.
Signed by:                                                       Authenticated by:
Henri R. Bisson                                               Robert M. Williams
Acting, Director                                              Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
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Last updated: 10-21-2009