Implementation of Recommendations: Academy Panel Report on the U.S. Park Police

February 2004 - Congress directed the National Park Service to contract with the National Academy of Public Administration in 2001 to conduct an independent review of the United States Park Police's (USPP) structure and financial plan.

In August 2001, an Academy Panel issued its report, The U.S. Park Police: Focusing Priorities, Capabilities, and Resources for the Future, which contained 20 recommendations geared to clarifying the mission, developing and executing an integrated and comprehensive USPP budget, and conducting a thorough assessment of staffing needs as they relate to mission. In 2004, Congress directed NPS to contract with the Academy to conduct a follow-up study on the recommendations made in its 2001 report.

The Academy’s study was conducted in two phases that included the following areas:

  • Phase I: Reviewed the implementation status of the recommendations made in the August 2001 report and examine the rationale for non-concurrence, where applicable.
  • Phase II: Evaluated the USPP mission, roles, and functions, the resources allocated to them, and relative priority. Examined whether roles and functions have changed since 9/11 in terms of their relationship to mission, needs and priorities. Identified budget resources used to fulfill specific functions, USPP priorities assigned to each function, and assess the feasibility of adjusting currently performed functions assuming constrained budgets in the next few years.

Key Findings

There were a number of significant changes at the Department of Interior, National Park Service, and U.S. Park Police that affected the actions taken on those 20 recommendations in the August 2001 report. The DOI implemented a number of law enforcement reforms in response to changing security needs in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and recommendations from some internal DOI reports. Newly appointed managers at DOI, NPS, and USPP attempted to define their roles in setting law enforcement policy and determining law enforcement resource requirements. Trends in USPP budget and personnel resources also reinforced the importance of implementing many of the August 2001 recommendations. The report summarized these major changes before assessing the implementation status of the 20 recommendations. The Academy recommend the USPP clarify its roles and mission, increase its focus on Washington D.C., facilitate joint operations involving state and local police, develop a unified, integrated and comprehensive Park Police budget, submit the budget to Park Police Chief, and develop detailed financial plans.