Saving Our History: A Review of National Park Cultural Resource Programs

October 2008 - The Panel was concerned that cultural resources throughout the National Park System are at risk. The Panel identified ways that NPS can improve its stewardship of these significant national resources by strengthening performance-based management, ensuring park superintendent accountability, increasing flexibility in the use of funds, strengthening national leadership, and seeking additional staff and funding to reduce risks to cultural resources of national significance.

Overview

The National Academy Study Panel who oversaw this effort was impressed by the dedication of National Park Service (NPS) staff to the resources in their care and commends NPS for its efforts to set strategic goals, measure performance, and factor performance and efficiency into budget allocations and management decisions at all levels. The Panel was concerned that cultural resources throughout the National Park System are at risk. The Panel identified ways that NPS can improve its stewardship of these significant national resources by strengthening performance-based management, ensuring park superintendent accountability, increasing flexibility in the use of funds, strengthening national leadership, and seeking additional staff and funding to reduce risks to cultural resources of national significance.

Key Findings

Historically, NPS has allocated funding and staff based primarily on assessments of parks’ needs. Since the mid-1990s, NPS has developed various systems and tools to set strategic goals, measure performance, and factor performance and efficiency into budget allocations and management decisions at all levels. Although NPS managers now have many useful measures and tools to inform decision-making, the Panel finds room for improvement in NPS stewardship of park cultural resources.