National Park funding decisions under scrutiny

ww11-memorial-world-warOn Thursday, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Subcommittee Chairman John Mica, R-Fla., demanded more information about the National Parks Service’s decision to barricade national monuments during the current lapse in appropriations.

“The Committee is concerned with NPS’s allocation of resources during this time of lapsed funding,” the chairmen write in a letter to NPS director Jonathan Jarvis. “Numerous media outlets have reported that NPS has erected barricades to keep people from entering the National World War II Memorial and other monuments,” despite the fact that the memorial is open 24 hours a day and is “unimpeded by fences, barricades, or other obstructions.”

“Our concerns are heightened due to NPS’s suspicious decisions during the lead-up to the sequester,” the letter states. “This past spring the Committee uncovered evidence that NPS’s budgetary decisions were designed to intentionally cause the most disruption to the public in a time of reduced funding.”

The letter continues, “Information presented to the Committee suggested budget adjustments resulting in obvious hardship or displeasure for the public were chosen in lieu of more prudent measures. Specifically, the Committee received information that proposed budget adjustments submitted by an NPS official in the field to deal with sequestration impacts were rejected by NPS superiors in favor of cuts that would be more visible and disruptive.”

The Committee originally wrote to Jarvis about the agency’s response to budget cuts mandated by sequestration on March 27, 2013 and held a hearing on the topic on April 16, 2013. Following the hearing, the Committee sent a letter to the Department of the Interior regarding specially made signs which seemed to advertise park closures due to sequestration. Jarvis, at the hearing, that such signs were “inappropriate” and should be taken down.