House Halts Administration Plan to Outsource Park Staff

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   July 17, 2003
Contact:   Andrea Keller, National Parks Conservation Association, 202-454-3332


House Halts Administration Plan to Outsource Park Staff

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. House of Representatives decided today to preserve language in the fiscal year 2004 Interior Appropriations bill that protects national park staff and visitors from a damaging White House policy that would outsource to private contractors up to 70 percent of positions in the National Park Service.

“This is an enormous victory for our national parks and for millions of park visitors,” said Thomas Kiernan, National Parks Conservation Association president. “We need the Senate and conferees to also stand up for our national parks and not allow the administration to put the stewardship of our national heritage in the hands of the lowest bidder without full consideration for the implications to our parks.”

Interior Ranking Member Norm Dicks (D-Wa.), and Representatives Mark Souder (R-Ind.), Brian Baird (D-Wa.), and David Obey (D-Wis.) spoke on the House floor about their concerns with the administration’s privatization policy. Even the co-sponsor of the amendment to strike the language from the bill, Representative Tom Davis (R-Va.), said that the “administration’s plans overreach.”

The House Committee on Appropriations added bipartisan language in section 335 of Chairman Charles Taylor’s (R-NC) Interior Appropriations bill that would have stopped the administration’s plan to privatize government agencies, such as the Park Service, until Congress could develop a better understanding of the costs and consequences.

National park positions subject to the administration’s privatization scheme include archaeologists, biologists, museum curators, interpreters, maintenance workers, and others whose jobs are critical to meeting the needs of park visitors, educating school groups, and protecting the parks.

“The administration’s allies in the House realized that there was enough opposition to their privatization scheme and did not want to risk a loss on the House floor,” Kiernan added. “The key now will be for the Senate and conferees to withstand the massive pressure being brought to bear from the administration, which has threatened a veto over the provision.”

The version of the Interior Appropriations bill approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee does not protect the Park Service from excessive outsourcing, although the Committee added specific language to the bill exempting the U.S. Forest Service. Floor action in the Senate could occur later this month.

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