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entitled 'National Park Service: Status of Efforts to Develop Better 
Deferred Maintenance Data' which was released on April 12, 2002.  

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United States General Accounting Office: 
Washington, DC 20548:  

April 12, 2002:  

The Honorable Joe Skeen: 
The Honorable Norman D. Dicks: 
Ranking Minority Member: 
Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies: 
Committee on Appropriations: 
House of Representatives:  

Subject: National Park Service: Status of Efforts to Develop Better 
Deferred Maintenance Data:  

As GAO, the Department of the Interior's inspector general, and others 
reported,[Footnote 1] the National Park Service has struggled to 
develop an effective maintenance management system that would, among 
other things, enable the agency to provide an accurate and reliable 
estimate of the amount of deferred maintenance on its assets. Although 
the Park Service has spent almost two decades addressing this problem, 
Park Service officials acknowledge that the service still does not 
have an accurate inventory of existing assets or a reliable estimate 
of deferred maintenance costs for these assets. Over the years, 
estimates of the amount of deferred maintenance throughout the
national park system have varied widely-—sometimes by billions of 

In 1984, the Congress directed the National Park Service to develop 
and implement a maintenance management system. The agency spent about 
$11 million developing the system. However, park managers found that 
it did not provide them with all of the information needed to manage 
their deferred maintenance workload. As a result, the use of the 
system was terminated. In 1998, spurred by continuing congressional 
concern and new federal accounting standards,[Footnote 2] the Park 
Service initiated the design of a new asset management process that, 
among other things, is to provide the agency with a systematic method 
for documenting deferred maintenance needs and tracking progress in 
reducing the amount of deferred maintenance. The Park Service has now 
spent more than 3 years developing its new asset management process. 
The Congress continues to monitor the agency's efforts, including 
whether the new process will provide the type of accurate and reliable 
information needed to determine the scope of the deferred maintenance 
problem and track progress in reducing the deferred maintenance 

As part of this ongoing monitoring effort, you asked us to determine 
whether the Park Service's new asset management process will provide 
accurate and reliable deferred maintenance data that will permit 
agency managers and the Congress to measure progress in reducing 
deferred maintenance both at the park level and agencywide.  

To address these issues, we reviewed the status of the Park Service's 
asset management process with headquarters officials, regional 
coordinators, and officials at 14 parks throughout the nation. 
[Footnote 3] The 14 parks were selected to include all 6 parks that 
pilot-tested the new process and 8 other parks where staff are fully 
trained in using the new process and have a large number of assets, 
proportionally, in their respective regions. In addition, we discussed 
asset management processes and practices with officials at other 
federal and nonfederal organizations that, like the Park Service, are 
responsible for managing and maintaining a large number of facilities: 
the Bureau of Reclamation within the Department of the Interior, the 
Navy, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the 
Department of Energy, the Army Corps of Engineers, and one private 
company, Walt Disney World. We also reviewed maintenance management 
literature and contacted two facility experts who are members of the 
Federal Facilities Council Standing Committee on Operations and 
Maintenance.[Footnote 4] We conducted our review from November 2001 
through April 2002 in accordance with generally accepted government 
auditing standards. Because our work was based on a limited number of 
park locations, it may not be representative of all Park Service 
units. However, we believe the information we gathered provides useful 
insights into the progress the agency is making in implementing a new 
asset management process.  

In discussions with your staff, we agreed that a formal briefing would 
meet the needs of the subcommittee. This letter summarizes our answers 
to your questions, and enclosure I documents the information we 
provided during a briefing with your office on March 22, 2002.
In summary, we found that the Park Service has made progress in 
developing a new asset management process that should, when fully and 
properly implemented, provide the agency with more accurate and 
reliable estimates of the amount of deferred maintenance of its 
assets. As currently planned, the new process being developed will, 
for the first time, enable the agency to have a (1) reliable inventory 
of its assets; (2) process for reporting on the condition of each 
asset in its inventory; and (3) systemwide methodology for estimating 
deferred maintenance costs for each asset. While the design of the new 
process is complete, it is just now being implemented. For example, 
staff training in the new process is taking place at 123 park units 
[Footnote 5] of 385 parks in the national park system, with training 
at the remaining parks to follow. Because managers at each park will 
be required to implement this new process using a consistent 
systemwide methodology, the resulting deferred maintenance estimates 
should permit agency managers, as well as the Congress, to monitor 
progress in reducing deferred maintenance both at the individual park 
and systemwide levels. However, while the new process is promising, 
its success cannot be determined until staff in each of the park units 
are trained and the new asset management process is fully and properly 

In addition to providing specific answers to your questions, we wanted 
to bring to your attention some other matters that will affect the 
agency's implementation of its new asset management process. While 
these matters are not significant enough to undermine the overall 
merit of the new process, addressing them will improve the 
effectiveness of the process. First, even though the Park Service has 
been developing its new process for more than 3 years, it has not yet 
estimated what its total implementation costs will be or developed a 
schedule for when full implementation will occur. While the agency has 
made progress in developing schedules and costs for some components of 
the process, including the acquisition and use of the needed 
maintenance management software, it has not yet estimated when all of 
the required condition assessments will be done or what they will 
cost. Without complete estimates and schedules that include all 
components of the process, including the completion of condition 
assessments, monitoring and assessing performance against budgets and 
timeframes will be difficult.  

Second, two different operating divisions within the Park Service—-
Concessions Management and Facilities Management—-are developing 
separate processes for tracking and reporting deferred maintenance, 
even though both units are responsible for managing the condition of 
government-owned facilities. Because both of these units have similar 
responsibilities for determining the condition of government-owned 
facilities and ensuring that they are properly maintained, it seems 
reasonable that they would work together in a coordinated way to 
ensure that their efforts are not duplicative.  

Finally, a key element of the Park Service's new asset management 
process requires the parks to assess the condition of each asset. 
There are two types of condition assessments: annual and 
comprehensive. Annual condition assessments are designed to identify 
only obvious and apparent asset deficiencies, while comprehensive 
condition assessments are designed to identify hard-to-find problems 
such as hidden structural defects in building foundations, roofs, or 
walls Currently, about 123 park units are to complete the annual 
condition assessments by the end of fiscal year 2002. While this 
approach may be appropriate for meeting programmatic and financial 
reporting needs in the short term, it may result in more complex and 
costly problems being overlooked in the long term. As a result, this 
approach could understate the amount of the deferred maintenance 
problem. In the final analysis, it is a tradeoff between the accuracy 
of the deferred maintenance estimates and the added expense and time 
that would be required if more comprehensive facility condition 
assessments were done. Park Service officials told us that the agency 
eventually plans to conduct comprehensive assessments for all assets. 
However, so far they have not developed a plan providing specifics 
about where, when, and how the assessments will be done or what they 
will cost.  

We provided a draft of this report to the Park Service for its review 
and comment. The Park Service generally agreed with the information 
presented in the report and provided us with a number of clarifying 
and technical comments that we incorporated as appropriate. They also 
provided us with two additional, more substantive comments. First, 
regarding our concern that the agency has not yet developed complete 
schedule and cost estimates for implementing the process, agency 
officials said that their plans for conducting the comprehensive 
condition assessments are still evolving. As a result, they are 
reluctant to develop complete schedule and cost estimates at this 
time. While we understand their reluctance, developing a complete 
implementation schedule and cost estimate would facilitate program 
accountability by providing a basis for monitoring and evaluating 
agency performance over time. Second, agency officials told us that in 
managing the new asset management process they are trying to de-
emphasize the significance of providing precise deferred maintenance 
amounts. Instead, they are taking a more results-oriented approach to 
managing the program by tracking and measuring changes in the 
condition of Park Service assets. In our view, there is merit in this 
approach. Nonetheless, it does not diminish the need to develop 
accurate and reliable deferred maintenance estimates so that the scope 
of the problem can be identified and budgetary needs can be supported.  

As agreed with your offices, we will make copies of this letter 
available to others upon request. This letter will also be available 
on GAO's home page at [hyperlink,].  

If you have any questions or need additional information, please 
contact me at (202) 512-3841, or Cliff Fowler, Assistant Director, at 
(202) 512-8029. Major contributors to this letter include Lloyd Adams, 
Brian Estes, Cliff Fowler, and Paul Staley.  

Signed by:  

Barry T. Hill: 
Director, Natural Resources and Environment:  

[End of section]  

Enclosure I: Status of the National Park Service's Efforts to Develop 
Better Deferred Maintenance Data:  

NPS Deferred Maintenance a Longstanding Concern:  

* GAO and others have previously reported that NPS has struggled for 
decades to effectively manage its deferred maintenance; estimates have 
varied greatly.  

* Better data still needed on the size of NPS' deferred maintenance 
problem and its ability to track progress in reducing it.  

Results in Brief:  

You Asked Us to Assess:  

* Whether the Park Service's new asset management process will provide 
accurate and reliable data on deferred maintenance that will permit 
the agency and Congress to measure progress in reducing deferred 


* Progress achieved:  

- Software acquired--MAXIMO TM;  

- 6 pilot parks--facility condition assessments, and maintenance cost 
estimates done;  

- About 175 parks plan to assess maintenance needs by 9-30-02;  

* While the new process is promising, accurate and reliable data 
depends on full and successful implementation which is just now 

Effectiveness of the new process could be improved by:  

* A better implementation strategy that includes:  

- Overall cost and schedule for asset management process;  

- Coordination between NPS divisions responsible for deferred 
maintenance on government owned assets;  

* Resolving uncertainties for conducting asset condition assessments.  

* If implementation concerns resolved, process appears to have 
capability to track progress at park and national levels.  

Scope and Methodology:  

* Contacted NPS officials: 
- Headquarters; 
- Regional coordinators; 
- 6 pilot parks; 
- 8 additional parks in 4 different regions/  

* Discussed maintenance management systems similar to NPS' with the 
Bureau of Reclamation, Navy, NASA, DOE, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 
and Walt Disney World.  

* Reviewed maintenance management literature and contacted two 
facility experts--members of the Federal Facilities Council's 
Committee on Operations and Maintenance.  


For Decades NPS Unsuccessful in Developing a Maintenance Management 


* GAO reports on need for maintenance management system;  

* Park Service required by P.L. 98-540 (1984) to implement such a 

* Over $11 million spent on prior systems.  


* 1998 GAO report identified need for more accurate data;  

* 1998 DOI OIG report identified NPS maintenance system as a material 

* 1998 DOI Planning, Design and Construction Council study team 
identified problems;  

* 1998 Federal Financial Accounting Standards No.6 — annual deferred 
maintenance disclosure requirements placed on agencies.  

Current Efforts Address Deferred Maintenance Based on a Broader Asset 
Management Approach Than in The Past:  

* Attempt to better align deferred maintenance spending with NPS 
priorities and performance measures;  

* De-emphasizes the significance of providing precise deferred 
maintenance amounts; emphasizes tracking changes in the condition of 

* Greater headquarters control over funding for maintenance and 
rehabilitation projects.  

Components of the Asset Management Process:  

* Facility Management Software System:  

- In 1999 acquired off-the-shelf computerized maintenance management 
software: MAXIMOTm.  

* Facility Condition Assessment Survey:  

- Asset Priority Index--to determine the relative importance of asset 
to a park's mission;  

- Facility Condition Index--to identify asset deficiencies and their 
relative priority.  

* Cost Estimating Software System—to determine the cost of repairing 
asset deficiencies.  

Park Service Efforts to Develop Better Data and Monitor Progress:  

Progress Made:  

* Integrated servicewide computerized system has the potential for 
many benefits;  

* Facility management software already in use by other Federal 
agencies and corporations;  

* Financial incentives for parks to use system--access to FY 2003 
repair/rehabilitation funds tied to park units implementation of asset 
management process;  

* For the first time, agency may have a reliable asset inventory 

Effectiveness of the New Process Could Be Improved By:  

* A better implementation strategy;  

* Resolving uncertainties for conducting asset condition assessments.  

Better Implementation Strategy Would Resolve Concerns About:  

* No overall costs and schedules developed for the asset management 

* New process applies only to government operated facilities— does not 
include concession-operated facilities:  

- Two different NPS divisions--concessions and facility management--
developing separate processes for reporting on deferred maintenance;  

- Cost-savings possible through greater coordination. 
* Overall asset management process not fully pre-tested--condition 
assessment component was still under development during 6 pilot tests. 
Deficiency data developed by contractors--a resource not available for 
parks now using the process.  

* Additional system integration required to develop better deferred 
maintenance data—e.g., Cost Estimating Software System, Project 
Management Information System.  

* Monitoring and oversight delegated to NPS regions which may result 
in inconsistent approaches and different levels of commitment.  

Resolve Uncertainties Over Approach for Conducting Asset Condition 

* Plan for annual condition assessments will identify only "obvious 
and apparent" maintenance needs:  

- Facility experts and NPS regional officials suggest this will likely 
underestimate total deferred maintenance;  

- May lead to inconsistent and incomplete identification of facility 

- Some parks include building code violations but others exclude them.  

* More complete estimate will require comprehensive condition 
assessments; time frames and costs unknown.  

Summary Observations:  


While the overall process has merit, its effectiveness can be improved 
if the Park Service:  

* Develops an overall cost and schedule for implementing new asset 
management process;  

* Coordinates NPS divisions having responsibility for deferred 
maintenance on government owned assets;  

* Decides on the best approach for conducting comprehensive condition 
assessments including when they will be done and at what cost.  

[End of section]  


[1] U.S. General Accounting Office, National Park Service: Efforts to 
Identify and Manage the Maintenance Backlog, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: May 
14, 1998). U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of Inspector 
General, Followup of Maintenance Activities, National Park Service, 98-
I344 (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 1998). U.S. Department of the Interior, 
Interior Planning, Design and Construction Council, Facilities 
Maintenance Assessment and Recommendations (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 

[2] The Statement of Federal Financial Accounting Standards No. 6, 
Accounting for Plant, Property, and Equipment, issued by the Federal 
Accounting Standards Advisory Board in 1996, requires that deferred 
maintenance be disclosed in federal agencies' annual financial 
statements beginning with fiscal year 1998.  

[3] The six pilot parks we contacted were Big Cyprus National 
Preserve, Effigy Mounds National Monument, Fort Caroline National 
Memorial, Redwood National Park, Santa Monica National Recreation 
Area, and Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve. The eight other 
parks included Mt. Rainier, Yosemite, and North Cascades National 
Parks in the Pacific West region; Glacier and Yellowstone National 
Parks in the Intermountain region; Delaware Water Gap National 
Recreation Area and Shenandoah National Park in the Northeast region; 
and Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the Southeast region.  

[4] The Federal Facilities Council, a part of the National Research 
Council, is a cooperative association whose purpose is to increase 
federal agencies' understanding of the design, construction, 
acquisition, and operation of federal facilities.  

[5] Because some park units are combined for administrative purposes, 
the 123 park units include 175 different parks. For example, Cape 
Hatteras National Seashore includes Fort Raleigh National Historic 
Site and the Wright Brothers National Memorial.  

[End of section]