National Park Service:

Condition of and Need for Employee Housing

RCED-93-192: Published: Sep 30, 1993. Publicly Released: Nov 1, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the National Park Service's employee housing program, focusing on the: (1) condition of employee housing; (2) Park Service's justification for providing employee housing; and (3) accuracy of the backlog estimate for housing repairs and replacement.

GAO found that: (1) as of 1992, 40 percent of the Park Service's employee housing was in good condition and required only routine maintenance, 45 percent was in fair condition and required minor repairs, and 15 percent was in poor condition and required major interior and structural repairs; (2) the Park Service adequately justified 88 percent of its employee housing, since the housing was needed for seasonal and permanent employees, at isolated and non-isolated parks, who provide necessary visitors services or protect government property; (3) the Park Service could not adequately justify 12 percent of its employee housing for permanent employees at non-isolated parks; (4) the Park Service could not explain how it determined its $546-million estimate for employee housing repair and replacement costs; (5) the Park Service did not provide adequate guidance to regional offices and park units on estimate preparation; (6) a sizable backlog of housing repairs exists because rental incomes and operating funds are not sufficient to cover maintenance costs; and (7) Congress has imposed a limit on rental rate increases to lessen the impact of sharp rent increases.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Park Service to: (1) reassess the need for all permanent housing units, especially those justified on the basis of nonavailability or unaffordability in nonisolated areas; and (2) develop a strategy to eliminate from the housing inventory those units not needed.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: In response to an August 1994 report on Park Service employee housing, NPS stated that it is considering together the recommendations in both GAO reports on employee housing (RCED-93-192 and RCED-94-284). As such, NPS is currently planning a park-by-park review of housing needs and is assembling a task force under the direction of the Secretary's Chief of Staff to review all facets of the Park Service's employee housing program. Because the recommendation in this report (RCED-93-192) and an August 1994 report (RCED-94-284) are so similar GAO is combining them for follow-up purposes. (See RCED-94-284.)

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Park Service to develop a repair and replacement estimate that can be supported for those units that are needed. One method of supporting the estimate would be to use historical repair and replacement costs.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: In response to an August 1994 report on Park Service employee housing, NPS stated that it is considering together the recommendations in both GAO reports on employee housing (RCED-93-192 and RCED-94-284). As such, NPS is currently planning a park-by-park review of housing needs and is assembling a task force under the direction of the Secretary's Chief of Staff to review all facets of the Park Service's employee housing program. Because the recommendation in this report (RCED-93-192) and an August 1994 report (RCED-94-284) are so similar GAO is combining them for follow-up purposes. (See RCED-94-284.)

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Park Service to develop a strategy for closing the gap between rental income and maintenance costs. As part of this strategy, the Park Service needs to reassess the administrative adjustments to rental rates and analyze the impact on employees of eliminating or increasing the rental rate limitation. If the Park Service concludes that the rental rate increase limitation should be changed, the rationale for the change should be communicated to the appropriate congressional committees.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: In response to an August 1994 report on Park Service employee housing, NPS stated that it is considering together the recommendations in both GAO reports on employee housing (RCED-93-192 and RCED-94-284). As such, NPS is currently planning a park-by-park review of housing needs and is assembling a task force under the direction of the Secretary's Chief of Staff to review all facets of the Park Service's employee housing program. Because the recommendation in this report (RCED-93-192) and an August 1994 report (RCED-94-284) are so similar GAO is combining them for follow-up purposes. (See RCED-94-284.)

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