NPS and HCRS Recreation Technical Assistance Programs

CED-79-68: Published: Apr 12, 1979. Publicly Released: Apr 12, 1979.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

The National Park Service (NPS) and the Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service (HCRS) both are authorized to provide recreation technical assistance to state and local governments, the private sector, and Indians. NPS is primarily responsible for the National Park System, with the technical assistance program under the Office of Cooperative Activities responsible for publications, international programs, and federal/state activities. HCRS comprises primarily the programs of the former Bureau of Outdoor Recreation and was conceived as the focal point for federal recreation planning, evaluation, and coordination of protection and preservation efforts. HCRS technical assistance program activities are performed by the Division of Implementation Assistance at about $2.6 million annually. Since NPS and HCRS perform similar functions, there is potential for duplication, with a natural loss of efficiency.

The technical assistance roles of both agencies have not been clearly defined, nor has either agency developed relevant criteria or guidelines for its field offices to follow. Only a small amount of assistance is either requested or provided by NPS, but, although most NPS regions receive no specific funding for this purpose, they provide limited aid through other programs. Assistance to Indians by NPS is not always recreational, nor are planned projects always constructed; in fact, some funds earmarked for this use go to support in-house activities. Duplication between NPS and HCRS extends to management training and the publication of certain recreation periodicals. NPS also conducts inspections of 46 former federal recreation demonstration areas which have been transferred to state and local governments; these are similar in form and purpose to HCRS inspections on several hundred properties nationwide. For 24 of these locations, the agencies have overlapping responsibilities.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should transfer responsibilities for providing recreation technical assistance from NPS to HCRS, including training, publications, and inspections. The Secretary should also direct HCRS to prepare clear criteria and guidelines for planning, developing, implementing, and evaluating its recreation technical assistance activities.

    Agency Affected:


Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Mar 12, 2018

Feb 22, 2018

Jan 26, 2018

Jan 19, 2018

Jan 4, 2018

Dec 22, 2017

Dec 13, 2017

Nov 15, 2017

Nov 2, 2017

Oct 30, 2017

Looking for more? Browse all our products here