Cultural Resources:

Implementation of Federal Historic Preservation Program Can Be Improved

RCED-88-81: Published: Jun 9, 1988. Publicly Released: Jul 11, 1988.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed six agencies' compliance with the Historic Preservation Act of 1966 to determine the: (1) extent and consequences of noncompliance; and (2) actions needed to bring the agencies into compliance.

GAO found that: (1) the agencies did not fully comply with their historic preservation responsibilities; (2) federal historic properties were damaged or had significantly deteriorated as a result of the noncompliance; (3) the Secretary of the Interior did not establish an adequate training program for preservation staff; (4) the agencies failed to maximize the use of their historic buildings because they were unable to locate, account for, and nominate many historic properties; (5) the agencies did not adequately protect, preserve, or maintain their historic properties, causing deterioration and damage; and (6) the agencies stated that they needed better guidance and support from Interior, as well as specific program funding to fulfill their responsibilities.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: NPS proposed a FY 1990 budget initiative to develop a comprehensive historic preservation training program; however, the initiative was not approved. NPS is developing other alternatives to carrying out its historic preservation responsibilities and plans no further action on this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director, National Park Service (NPS), to develop and provide, as part of its fiscal year (FY) 1990 budget request, a proposal to Congress detailing how the Secretary intends to adequately provide training opportunities as contemplated by section 101(h) of the Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended. The proposal should include implementation time frames and other pertinent information.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Since guidance on preferential treatment has been in process since late 1988 and it has not yet been finalized, this recommendation should be closed.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior, the Administrators of General Services and Veterans Affairs, and the Postmaster General should: (1) ensure that the use of agency-owned or -managed historic properties is given preference over nonhistoric properties; (2) establish agencywide time frames regarding efforts to locate, inventory, and nominate their historic properties; and (3) emphasize through agency directives that historic properties must be adequately protected, preserved, and maintained.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: NPS established time frames, as recommended, and is encouraging the preference of historic properties; as well as emphasizing the protection and preservation of historic properties.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior, the Administrators of General Services and Veterans Affairs, and the Postmaster General should: (1) ensure that the use of agency-owned or -managed historic properties is given preference over nonhistoric properties; (2) establish agencywide time frames regarding efforts to locate, inventory, and nominate their historic properties; and (3) emphasize through agency directives that historic properties must be adequately protected, preserved, and maintained.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The General Services Administration has: (1) developed agencywide management guidelines requiring maximum use of historic properties; (2) established records on each of its properties 50 years or older; and (3) established a cultural resource management program which emphasizes protection, preservation, and maintenance of historic properties.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior, the Administrators of General Services and Veterans Affairs, and the Postmaster General should: (1) ensure that the use of agency-owned or -managed historic properties is given preference over nonhistoric properties; (2) establish agencywide time frames regarding efforts to locate, inventory, and nominate their historic properties; and (3) emphasize through agency directives that historic properties must be adequately protected, preserved, and maintained.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Since a historic preservation plan will be published by late 1994, this recommendation should be closed.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior, the Administrators of General Services and Veterans Affairs, and the Postmaster General should: (1) ensure that the use of agency-owned or -managed historic properties is given preference over nonhistoric properties; (2) establish agencywide time frames regarding efforts to locate, inventory, and nominate their historic properties; and (3) emphasize through agency directives that historic properties must be adequately protected, preserved, and maintained.

    Agency Affected: Veterans Administration

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Postal Service (USPS) has located and inventoried all postal facilities, over 50 years of age, and is nominating buildings for historic preservation. USPS is emphasizing the protection and preservation of historic properties.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior, the Administrators of General Services and Veterans Affairs, and the Postmaster General should: (1) ensure that the use of agency-owned or -managed historic properties is given preference over nonhistoric properties; (2) establish agencywide time frames regarding efforts to locate, inventory, and nominate their historic properties; and (3) emphasize through agency directives that historic properties must be adequately protected, preserved, and maintained.

    Agency Affected: United States Postal Service

 

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