The Presidio Trust: Developing a National Park While Attaining Self-Sufficiency

January 2004 - An Academy Panel examined the Presidio Trust Corporation’s partnership with the National Park Service, reviewed the Trust’s financial plans and budget projections, reviewed the capital and operating spending trade-offs between revenue producing and other environmental and cultural preservation and enhancement activities, and assessed the effectiveness of the Trust's organizational structure.

Following the close of the Presidio as a military base in 1994, Congress placed the San Francisco property under the joint management of the National Park Service and the newly-created Presidio Trust Corporation (the Trust), an independent government corporation established to help develop and maintain the site. Under the Presidio Trust Act which created the corporation, the Trust was required to become financially self-sufficient by 2013. To assist the Trust in meeting this deadline, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior directed the National Academy to conduct a review of the Trust’s financial and business management practices in 2002. During the study, the National Academy Panel examined the Trust’s partnership with NPS, reviewed the Trust’s financial plans and budget projections, reviewed the capital and operating spending trade-offs between revenue producing and other environmental and cultural preservation and enhancement activities, and assessed the effectiveness of the organizational structure.

Key Findings

Following its review of the Trust's financial and business management practices, the Panel found that the Trust had made significant progress in meeting its dual statutory goals---achieving financial self-sufficiency and transforming the Presidio into a viable, sustainable national park site---and that it could meet its 2013 financial self sufficiency target if it continued to control its operating costs and successfully implemented its current capital spending plan. To ensure success, the Panel recommended that the Presidio Trust take the following steps:

  • Establish targets for the desired mix and level of park services and their associated costs within the long-term financial plan.
  • Develop specific program regulations to use the Trust's loan guarantee authority to provide lower-cost financing for many of the remaining building and other nonresidential rehabilitation projects
  • Establish philanthropic funding goals to fund park services that cannot be financed with internal Trust revenue sources and include these goals as an alternative in the long-term financial plan.

The Panel also recommended that Congress amend the Presidio Trust Act to make the Secretary of the Interior and the Trust jointly responsible for providing public interpretive services, visitor orientation, and educational services in Area B of the Presidio.