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And so it begins, CONTRACTING OUT THE PARKS

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September 09, 2002 05:15PM

CONTRACTING OUT THE PARKS
August 19, 2002
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is researching a Bush plan to contract out the national parks. While the Bush regime takes its wrecking ball to the national parks from Stiltsville in Biscayne National Park to snowmobiles in Yellowstone, they are hatching a more corrupting plan. Under the guise of an old (1955/1966) circular from the Office of Management and Budget known as A-76, the Bush ideologues are engineering the corporate management of the national parks. Initiated in September 2001, the Norton Interior Department (DOI) identified 11,807 jobs in the National Park Service (NPS) that are not "governmental" in nature. It is these jobs that the NPS is expected to contract out to the lowest bidder over the next ten years. What are these
non-governmental jobs? They are the maintenance folks, the biologists, the archeologists, the environmental specialists, interpreters; in short,everyone but the law enforcement rangers and the park managers. DOI classifies these 11,807 jobs as "commercial" in nature that should be considered for privatization.
Who will bid for these jobs? The NPS can bid to retain them. But the NPS will be competing against entities that need pay only the Federal minimum wage and need not offer health or retirement benefits. Conceivably, Disney Corporation could bid to provide all interpretive services in a Yosemite National Park, when and if those jobs come up on the auction block. (Perhaps then the apologists for Disney-size park entrance fees will be happy with their, up-till-now, inapt analogy.)
Under marching orders from Interior, NPS Director Fran Mainella is
seeking to take millions of dollars of park operating funds and dedicate them not to operating the parks but to studying the first 1800 jobs to be considered for bid. The NPS has already spent many dollars in operating funds for the salary, time and travel expenses of multiple oversight and steering committees to guide the contracting-out process. Now, Mainella
wants 5.5 million dollars in Fiscal Year 2003 to study the jobs. That is enough money to operate Joshua Tree National Park for an entire year with a couple million to spare.
And the NPS needs more money?
But, there is something even more disturbing. The NPS has contracted with the Denver-based engineering/management firm CH2M Hill to study each position at a cost to the taxpayer and NPS operating funds of $1,500 per job analyzed. The NPS appears incapable of doing the job by itself. It must pay a contractor. Moreover, the contractor is not neutral. CH2M Hill conducts a multi-billion dollar business in operating and maintaining
military and Federal facilities. PEER intends to find out how CH2M Hill obtained this lucrative contract and whether CH2M Hill will be banned from submitting bids for the positions it studies and recommends be contracted out. PEER seeks to know what relationship CH2M Hill may have with other organizations, as a contractor or as a donor.
The Bush plan for corporate park management has caused distress
throughout the National Park Service. In some parks, large numbers of park employees have signed joint letters to their members of Congress to protest the foolishness of the ideologically-driven privatization project. In late July, Congressman Moran of Virginia succeeded in having the House pass an amendment to a Fiscal 2003 appropriations act to prohibit the use of arbitrary quotas for privatizing Federal jobs. Perhaps the Senate will follow suit.
PEER, in its growing role as defender of the national park system
employees and their park protection responsibilities, will try to find out more about the Bush plan and keep the public informed.
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And so it begins, CONTRACTING OUT THE PARKS

free our forests 746September 09, 2002 05:15PM

Re: And so it begins, CONTRACTING OUT THE PARKS

laughing bear 799September 10, 2002 10:34AM



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