National Park Service:

Scope and Cost of America's Industrial Heritage Project Need to Be Defined

RCED-93-134: Published: May 14, 1993. Publicly Released: Jun 15, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Southwestern Pennsylvania Heritage Preservation Commission's America's Industrial Heritage Project (AIHP), focusing on: (1) AIHP total costs and funding; (2) AIHP project development and how AIHP projects relate to the National Park Service's national priorities list; and (3) who is responsible for future AIHP project operation and maintenance.

GAO found that: (1) although the Commission has not defined the number, size, and cost of AIHP projects, the total project cost is estimated at $355 million; (2) between 1989 and 1993, Congress appropriated $63 million for AIHP, of which $40 million was for planning, design, construction, and administration costs; (3) additional contributions from nonfederal entities have totalled $32 million; (4) AIHP project development recommendations come from individuals, the community, the Commission, and technical advisory groups; (5) the Commission is authorized to fund projects within the Park Service's control as long as they fit into the overall theme of AIHP and are included in the general management plan; (6) there is no funding or developmental relationship between AIHP projects and the Park Service's national project priorities list; (7) although nonfederal entities will operate and maintain completed AIHP projects located on nonfederal land, federal funding will be needed for 5 years to operate AIHP projects; (8) the Park Service will operate and maintain AIHP projects within its control using federally appropriated funds; (9) it is uncertain who will be responsible for the future management, operation, and maintenance of AIHP projects after the Commission's term expires in 1998; and (10) the Commission favors the establishment of a not-for-profit corporation to resolve future management problems, but it has not made a final decision on how to sustain projects for the long term.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Southwestern Pennsylvania Heritage Commission has developed a "Scope and Cost of Implementing the Action Plan" for America's Industrial Heritage Project as well as a "Covenant Agreement." Together, these documents present (1) the funding over the next 10 years for project development, (2) the need for Commission support, and (3) private sector support for non-Park Service projects after initial development costs.

    Recommendation: Because of the uncertainties about the development and operation of AIHP, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Commission to develop a plan that: (1) clearly defines the scope of AIHP in terms of the number, size, and cost of the projects; (2) identifies the projects on nonfederal land, if any, that will require federal funds for operation and maintenance, the amount of such funds, and the period for which the funds will be needed; and (3) provides adequate assurance that over the long term the federal investment in AIHP will be protected. The plan, when developed, should be submitted to the applicable congressional authorization and appropriations committees to facilitate any deliberations on the future size and costs of AIHP.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

 

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