National Park Service:

Information Concerning the Gettysburg National Military Park and Two of Its Partners

RCED-00-27R: Published: Dec 9, 1999. Publicly Released: Dec 9, 1999.

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James E. Wells, Jr
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Office of Public Affairs
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the National Park Service's Gettysburg National Military Park and two of its partners--the Gettysburg National Military Park Advisory Commission and the Friends of the National Parks of Gettysburg, Inc.

GAO noted that: (1) the Commission was created to advise the Secretary of the Interior on coordinating management of the Park and the Gettysburg Battlefield Historic District with local government jurisdictions; (2) filling the seats of Commission members whose terms have expired has involved delays ranging from 3 to 22 months; (3) under the law creating the Commission, the original members were to serve staggered terms of 1 to 3 years; (4) the National Park Service's Office of Policy officials cited several reasons for the delays, including a heavy workload that occurs because there are about 50 other advisory commissions associated with the Service; (5) any Commission member appointed for a definitive term may serve after the expiration of that term until a successor is appointed; (6) nothing prohibits a Commission member whose term has expired from voting on matters before the Commission or from serving as Chairman; (7) according to the Park superintendent and the Commission Chairman, pre-meetings were held prior to the Commission's pubic meetings; (8) crucial to whether the pre-meetings violated the Federal Advisory Committee Act is determining whether the pre-meetings were held to provide advice to the park; (9) because of the lack of information, GAO was unable to determine whether advice was provided during these pre-meetings; (10) eleven Federal Register notices of advisory commission meetings were not published within the General Services Administration's required deadlines; (11) the Park has been involved in 20 land transactions since January 1989; (12) none of the transactions directly involved any member of the Commission, but five Commission members were indirectly involved in a number of completed transactions and one ongoing transaction; (13) the Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg, Inc., is a support group for the Park and the Eisenhower National Historic Site; and (14) the Friends and the Park have agreed that the Friends will provide general support, conduct philanthropic activities, and perform other private volunteer activities and initiatives intended to benefit the Park and the Eisenhower site.

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