A Review of the National Park Service: Implementation of Reforms Recommended in a 1998 Academy Report

April 2002 In 1998, the National Academy of Public Administration (the Academy) conducted a study of the National Park Service (NPS) line item construction program. The study, which resulted in eleven recommendations, focused on the Denver Service Center (DSC) which had a dominant role in implementing the program.

The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) requested that the Academy conduct the study of the program to understand the causes of the cost-control problems and to recommend solutions.

Key Observations

  1. Many NPS staff believe that resources are inadequate to accomplish early planning supporting the current line- item construction program.
  2. Considerable and prompt action has been taken to implement the recommendations contained in the original Academy report.
  3. There appears to be little benefit in requiring the NPS director’s approval of each project prior to initiating the construction process.
  4. No contingency funding is provided to the field to fund required construction changes at the time of contract award.
  5. The NPS housing office has made considerable progress in adjusting the NPS housing model for unique park conditions.
  6. The factors contained in recommendation ten of the 1998 Academy report are program wide factors, not individual small project allocations.

Key Recommendations

  1. NPS should develop an approval process that does not require the approval of the Director for each line item construction project prior to initiating the construction process.
  2. To accommodate changes, two to three percent of the project net construction costs should be provided to the contracting organization at the time of contract award.
  3. The NPS should continue to work with the National Association of Homebuilders’ Research Center to further adjust the NPS model for unique conditions in some park units.
  4. Factors should be treated as program wide averages and available funds should be used to correct troubled projects.