National Parks' Health and Safety Problems Given Priority; Cost Estimates and Safety Management Could Be Improved

RCED-83-59: Published: Apr 25, 1983. Publicly Released: May 5, 1983.

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In its second in a series of three reports, GAO reviewed the National Park Service's (NPS) estimate of its current health and safety backlog of construction projects and its systems to identify, set priorities for, and fund health and safety programs.

In it first report, GAO estimated that the cost to complete the backlog construction projects was about $1.6 billion. Although NPS can improve its estimates, the uncertainty of project costs until final plans are developed limits NPS ability to make more reliable estimates. In 1982, NPS updated its construction priority list and planned to fund $538 million for health and safety projects between 1983 and 1987. It estimated an additional construction backlog of $1.7 billion for fiscal year 1988 and beyond. GAO found that officials and employees responsible for health and safety inspections in the National Parks it visited do not fully comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Department of the Interior, and NPS health and safety inspection requirements. Deficiencies included lack of required inspections as well as inadequate inspection documentation, followup procedures, and monitoring by regional offices and NPS headquarters. GAO stated that progress varied in the NPS-wide inspection programs which encompass safety and maintenance assessments for roads, bridges, tunnels, buildings, and dams and environmental health inspections for water supply and sewage systems. GAO noted that NPS acted to improve roads, bridges, tunnels, dams, and water supply systems; however, summary data on corrections to sewage systems were not available.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the NPS Director to develop procedures for the regional safety managers to use in reviewing the parks' health and safety activities, particularly health and safety inspections.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the NPS Director to review regional health and safety activities and require their compliance with Service requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: NPS issued a directive (NPS-50) in May 1984.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the NPS Director to develop an up-to-date, formal headquarters health and safety program to be used as a guide for regional and park programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: According to NPS and Interior budget officials, health and safety projects are submitted with analysis. However, the analysis does not specifically address reliability and comprehensiveness.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should include the updated 5-year health and safety estimate in Interior's annual budget submission to Congress which should be accompanied by an explanation of the estimate's reliability and comprehensiveness.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: NPS provides the Interior budget office with a five-year construction program each year which includes an analysis of high priority health and safety projects. However, all projects are not reviewed by Interior, only those identified as important by NPS during its priority setting sessions and included in the five-year program.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should review, during Interior's annual review of the NPS budget, the NPS 5-year priority list of construction projects to determine if all health and safety projects are properly identified.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the NPS Director to identify safety training needs to meet OSHA, Interior, and NPS health and safety requirements and require that NPS provide for a safety training program to meet these needs.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

 

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