Doing Business With the USDA Forest Service

Information about USDA Forest Service<@VM>The CIO File: Keith Jackson


IT Infrastructure Study

RFP: May

Value: Not available

Purpose: The agency is looking to conduct an A-76 study for desktop support, server support, database management, telecommunications, IT security, infrastructure design, integration, testing and delivery, and IT management.

Remote Sensing Technical Support

RFP: May

Value: Not available

Purpose: This is a small-business contract to provide consulting and design, operations support, and planning and analysis. Tasks include projects designed to support management of forest, range, watersheds, minerals and other natural resources, and to develop and demonstrate remote sensing with other geospatial technologies.

Airborne Infrared Fire Perimeter Detection and Mapping

RFP: June

Value: Not available

Purpose: Provide airborne infrared fire mapping and detection services to the National Interagency Fire Center and the Remote Sensing Applications Center.

Source: Input Inc.

Things to note

Under the President's Management Agenda, the Forest Service wants to use
e-government to simplify getting permits, expand online procurement, improve access to information and participate in the governmentwide Presidential Initiative on e-grants for grants and agreements.

"Forest Service e-Government Strategy and Roadmap" describes the agency's plan for integrating the president's e-gov initiatives and USDA's "Smart Choice" e-Gov initiatives with its own priorities. In fiscal 2003, the agency focused on Web information delivery, Government Paperwork Elimination Act compliance and e-gov project management organization. This will continue into fiscal 2004. Also, more e-gov projects should be started in fiscal 2004: incident planning and management; recreation services and information; and electronic NEPA/NFMA planning record simplifying the assistance process.


USDA Forest Service

P.O. Box 96090

Washington, DC 20090-6090

(202) 205-8333

Founded: 1905

Chief: Dale Bosworth

Employees: About 30,000

What it does: The Forest Service manages and protects public lands, called the National Forest System, in 155 national forests and 20 grasslands, a total of 191 million acres throughout 44 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. It is the largest forestry research organization in the world and provides technical and financial assistance to state and private forestry agencies. It is also involved in international forestry, helping to form policy and coordinate U.S. support for the world's forest resources.

Major components: The Forest Service is part of the Agriculture Department. It has four office levels: the ranger district (there are 600 of them), national forest, region (there are nine of them) and the national level or Washington office.

Number crunching

2004 budget request: $4.8 billion

2003 budget: $4.6 billion

A breakdown of the fiscal 2004 budget request by appropriation can be found at

The fiscal 2004 budget request includes an increase of $144.4 million for the Forest Service's portion of the National Fire Plan, a 10-year strategy for protecting communities and property from the effects of catastrophic wildfire. The total budget request (both Forest Service and the Interior Department) for the fire plan is more than $2.2 billion.

The Web site: Amazing! Everything I needed to know about the Forest Service, I found in one place on its Web page ( I love it when it's this easy. Extra kudos to the Forest Service for spelling out its fiscal 2004 budget. How nice not to have to translate that White House document for info.

For information on doing business, the agency Web site recommends you try for specific Forest Service contracts. For work by location, try

Keith Jackson

Official title: Chief information officer

Took the job: January 2001

Hometown: Cambridge, Md.

Home now: Silver Spring, Md.

Family: Married to Sheila Jessie Jackson; two children: son Harrison, 16; daughter Kiana, 6

Hobbies: Golf

Last book read: "It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life," by Lance Armstrong

Currently reading: "The Road Less Traveled," by M. Scott Peck

Alma mater: Bachelor of science degree in business administration and health administration from Towson University.

WT: What are the main technology needs of your agency?

Jackson: Land management planning, environmental analysis and wildlife management are heavily dependent upon geospatial data. Because the Forest Service is a large, geographically dispersed agency with very remote locations, communications to remote sites and remote systems management are critically important to our organizational success and efficiency. Wildland fire management tactical support requires technologies such as wireless LANs [and] radio communications that support voice and data and automated weather information.

WT: What role does the Forest Service play in homeland security?

Jackson: The Forest Service has a long history in incident command support for activities such as fire, earthquakes, floods, etc. Based on that vast experience, the agency has been called on to provide incident command training to local fire departments and to provide support for unique incidences, such as the Sept. 11 activities in New York and Washington, the Columbia space shuttle recovery and international disasters. Our law enforcement duties have increased, especially along U.S. borders and around critical infrastructure, such as hydroelectric facilities on national forests.

WT: What do you look for in companies with which you are thinking of doing business?

Jackson: Companies that have displayed a partnership mentality in previous business relationships, have a good track record in past performance, including meeting and exceeding service-level agreements.

WT: A year from now, where do you see the Forest Service's technology capabilities?

Jackson: I can see the increased use of technology to automate more manual processes. At a high level, we will manage data with a goal of delivering near real-time information and continue to leverage security technology using industry standards, greater integration with states and other federal agencies with our tactical radio systems and expanded use of wireless data.

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