National Park Service: Major Operations Funding Trends and How Selected Park Units Responded to Those Trends for Fiscal Years 2001 Through 2005

GAO-06-431 Published: Mar 31, 2006. Publicly Released: Apr 05, 2006.
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In recent years, some reports prepared by advocacy groups have raised issues concerning the adequacy of the Park Service's financial resources needed to effectively operate the park units. GAO was asked to identify (1) funding trends for Park Service operations and visitor fees for fiscal years 2001-2005; (2) specific funding trends for 12 selected high visitation park units and how, if at all, the funding trends have affected operations; and (3) recent management initiatives the Park Service has undertaken to address fiscal performance and accountability of park units.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of the Interior To reduce some of the pressure on funding for daily operations, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Park Service Director to follow through in revising Park Service policy to allow park units to use visitor fee revenues to pay the costs of permanent employees administering projects funded by visitor fees to the extent authorized by law.
Closed – Implemented
The National Park Service implemented the recommendation per a memorandum dated November 16, 2006 from the Acting Associate Director of Park Planning, Facilities, and Lands; Subject: Development of Annual Fee Revenue Funding for Recreation Fee Program. The policy was targeted to high revenue parks with complex project management needs.

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