Federal Government's Progress in Implementing a National Archeological and Historic Preservation Program

RCED-84-114: Published: May 30, 1984. Publicly Released: Jun 11, 1984.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO provided followup information concerning: (1) federal agencies' actions to protect and preserve archeological and historic sites on federal lands in compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act Amendments of 1980; (2) federal agencies' actions to implement prior GAO recommendations in this area; and (3) the status of the Department of the Interior's approval of state historic preservation plans.

GAO previously reported that federal agencies' archeological and historic preservation efforts were characterized by disorder and controversy. To remedy the situation, GAO made 16 recommendations to Interior and other federal agencies covering the areas of archeological resource identification, the states' role in determining archeological site significance, and the extent of data recovery of historic and archeological materials. GAO found that, as of February 1984, Interior, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and other federal agencies had responded to 9 recommendations and that Interior and the Advisory Council had taken action to comply with 35 of the 54 requirements of the 1980 amendments. Because many actions have only recently been implemented and supporting documentation is in draft form, GAO has not evaluated the effectiveness of the actions. GAO noted that actions on some recommendations and requirements have been suspended because of disputes between the Office of Management and Budget and other federal agencies and the Advisory Council on the legality of Council regulations. Specifically, implementation of section 106 of the amended National Historical Preservation Act is controversial. In addition, GAO found that Interior is requiring all states to implement comprehensive historic preservation planning to receive preservation grants. As of February 1984, 24 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico were in the process of implementing Interior's model planning approach.

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