Washington, D.C. – Perhaps the National Park Service could whittle down its $11.5 billion maintenance backlog by finding administrative savings, better utilizing its recreational fee program or some other method.
That’s what U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., along with Senate Government Affairs Committee Ranking Member Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Ranking Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, want to know. They’ve written the Government Accountability Office and asked it to conduct a formal review of the National Park Service’s administrative structure and spending habits.
“Our national parks are important to Wyoming and to me personally. I want to see them preserved, but I also want people to be able to access and enjoy them. The trend has been to lessen public access and often the justification is that there isn’t enough money to keep things open. Yet, we’ve never been able to tell where all the money is really going. This review should give us a good idea,” said Enzi.
The senators sent a letter to U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) Comptroller Gene L. Dodaro, asking for a review that addresses the National Park Service’s administrative structure to identify any inefficiencies, redundancy and opportunities for administrative savings. The senators also want the GAO to look at the spending and prioritizing of the recreation fee program. Other areas the senators asked the GAO to cover were identification of underutilized revenue sources and suggestions for improving revenue streams.
“For years we’ve been told about a huge maintenance backlog. We need to address that, but the federal government can’t sustain its current spending. It has to borrow more and more to pay for new programs when it can’t afford to pay for promises already made. In a sense, Washington is already one big maintenance backlog. Hopefully this report can help us make better sense of the National Park Service’s finances,” Enzi said.
Enzi said a study of this magnitude could take a full year or longer, but “it’s been a long time coming”.
A copy of the senators’ letter can be read here.