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A Program Review of Diversity Strategic Initiatives

Concerned that their Strategic Initiatives (SI) Program may not be operating optimally, the Forest Service requested that the Academy conduct “an independent and objective analysis of the Strategic Initiative (SI) Program to ensure it is operating in an efficient and effective manner.”

The primary study objectives are:

  • assessment of program objectives and results;
  • identification of strategies and approaches to achieve efficient “delivery, oversight and administration” of the SI Program; and
  • assessment of the cost effectiveness of the short and long/term return-on-investment of the SI Program.

The Forest Service requested that the Academy evaluate each individual initiative of the SI Program and provide a summary assessment to identify:

  1. which programs are operating effectively,
  2. which programs are achieving moderate success, and suggestions for improvement, and
  3. which programs are ineffective and should be eliminated.

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Key Findings

The Panel found that although the SI Program has delivered a small and steady source of diverse entry-level candidates into the workforce, the overall diversity of the Forest Service workforce with respect to the representation of minorities falls below the Civilian Labor Force in most mission critical occupations.


When the SI Program was examined in the aggregate, the Panel found:

  • high levels of energy and enthusiasm for many components of the SI Program;
  • intangible positive benefits, such as the identification of the Forest Service as a positive corporate role model in communities and Forest Service presence on college campuses; and
  • pockets of best practices in some regions that were not shared across the organization.

Several recurring themes for necessary improvements emerged from the Panel’s assessment.
Among them are:

  • lack of demonstrated top leadership commitment and accountability for fostering a diverse organizational culture;
  • lack of a sound program with clearly stated objectives and resource management system;
  • lack of mission orientation, clarity and accountability for the capacity building programs; and
  • lack of institutionalization of complete and consistent program management data collection and analysis requisite for conducting a comprehensive return-on-investment analysis.

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