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Washington, DC — The National Park Service is putting the final touches on a dizzyingly complex formula to determine future funding levels for individual parks, according to an internal memo released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The “NPS Scorecard” rates parks based upon 33 efficiency and performance “metrics” spread across four “matrix quadrants.”

“Nobody objects to basing management decisions on comparable data but this Rube Goldberg formula takes bureaucratic pretzel making to new heights,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, referring to the hilariously convoluted inventions sketched by late Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Rube Goldberg. “Using this Scorecard to determine park budgets suggests a stunning vacuum of intelligent leadership in the National Park Service.”

The Park Service claims that the Scorecard implements President Bush’s management reform philosophy. As outlined by an April 5, 2006 “overview” prepared for agency regional directors, the system takes “22 efficiency metrics and 11 performance metrics to determine a park’s score… Adjusted efficiency and performance scores are then placed into one of four quadrants on a matrix.” At that point—

  • “Raw scores are adjusted by independent variables that consider ‘uniqueness’ factors such as acres, new parks, population density, emphasis, climate, and FTE [full time employees], among others;”
  • Parks with “high efficiency [but] low performance scores” will be targeted for budget increases; and
  • Parks with “high efficiency [and] high performance scores” would also receive unspecified financial awards.

Each park will be responsible for validating its own data. Metrics factors include such items as “Base Labor Expenditures as a % of Gross Base Obligations, 4th Quarter Base Obligations as a % of Gross Base Obligations (Non-Labor), Change in Base Funded ‘Full-time Permanent Positions’ and Supervisory Span of Control (ratio of supervisor to non-supervisor positions).”

In March 2, 2006 testimony before the House Parks Subcommittee, NPS Director Fran Mainella stated —

“In 2006, the newest version of the Park Scorecard will be tested, piloted, and integrated into the Regional and Servicewide budget formulation processes leading to a national priority list for park base funding requests for use in future budgets.”

“The time and expense consumed by this giant paper exercise could be better spent hiring rangers and park police officers to protect visitors and the assets they come to see,” Ruch added, referring to rising complaints of resource shortages by park superintendents. “If this wacky, paint-by-the-numbers Scorecard constitutes a management reform then I am the Easter Bunny.”


See the NPS Scorecard Formula

Look at Director Fran Mainella’s testimony on NPS Scorecard

Read about impending budget cuts in the national park system

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