Cash Strapped Parks Director Says Whole Parks May Be Outsourced
National Park Service Director Fran Mainella is considering contracting out the entire operations of three national parks, according to an April 15 memo signed by her and released to the public today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a national organization of natural resources government employees.
The three parks under review are Boston National Historical Park, San Juan Island National Historic Site in Washington state, and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Altogether, these three parks employ 312 National Park Service employees on a full-time basis.
In the memo headed “Competitive Sourcing Update,” Mainella cited these three parks as the subject of preliminary planning efforts for FY 2005.”
“We will be reviewing whole parks to achieve the most efficient operations possible,” she wrote.
Previously, the National Park Service (NPS) looked to outsource certain types of jobs, such as maintenance, among several parks but is now looking at park units in their entirety for future bids by private firms.
Mainella testified today before the Subcommittee on Parks of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on the NPS budget requested by the Bush administration for Fiscal Year 2006. She did not mention the plan to put entire parks up for competitive outsourcing.
The national park system consists of 388 national parks and other units, covering 88 million acres of land throughout the United States and its territories, that attracted 277 million visitors last year, Mainella told the subcommittee.
The FY 2006 budget request totals about $2.2 billion in Department of the Interior appropriations and $320 million in Department of Transportation appropriations, Mainella said. “More than 70 percent of that funding is devoted to managing the National Park System, not including the cost of undertaking major construction or rehabilitation projects or acquiring land,” she said.
For FY 2005, Congress provided a net increase of about $64 million for parks operation. The FY 2006 budget request would increase operations funding by $50.5 million above that, allowing for, among other things, increases for pay and benefits, Mainella said.
Other sources of revenue estimated for FY 2006 include about $160 million in revenue from recreation fees, National Park Pass fees, and transportation fees, and about $38 million from concessions fees.
Provided by the Environmental News Service.