Statement on Signing a Bill Amending the Volunteers in the Parks Act of 1969

October 24, 1984

I have signed today S. 864, an act to amend the Volunteers in the Parks Act of 1969, and for other purposes.

S. 864 would allow the expansion of the volunteer program in the National Park Service and permit such a program to be established in the Bureau of Land Management; require the National Park Service to implement a complex maintenance management system; and impose new requirements for congressional approval of contracts of the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Fish and Wildlife Service pursuant to Office of Management and Budget Circular A - 76.

My administration proposed an expansion of the Volunteers in the Parks program of the National Park Service and creation of a similar volunteer program in the Bureau of Land Management of the Department of the Interior. The National Park Service program has been very successful, as highly motivated individuals have volunteered valuable services to the visitors to our national parks and to other National Park Service activities. By creating additional opportunities for Americans to provide volunteer services that advance the enjoyment and management of our parks and public lands, these precious resources that we all cherish can be fully utilized and protected. I am gratified that the Congress responded positively to the administration's proposals to enhance the preservation of our parks through the services of volunteers.

Although I have signed S. 864, I must note my reservations about it. Language was added to the bill that impairs the ability of the Department of the Interior to make sound management decisions on the most cost-effective way to provide support services. The Department is prohibited, in the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Land Management, from cost-effective contracting for services, such as road maintenance, now performed by Government employees. For large activities, the Government is hampered from contracting even when productivity studies show clear and substantial savings can be made, without a loss of service, by relying on the private sector. This represents an unwarranted intrusion by the Congress into matters normally within the management discretion of the executive branch and shows a serious disregard for providing cost-effective services to the public and the taxpayer.

Notwithstanding the constraints and as otherwise permitted, I am directing the Department of the Interior to proceed with efficiency studies to effect productivity improvements in all areas. We will work with the Congress next year for their reconsideration of these and other intrusions into the efficient operations and management of the Federal Government.

Note: As enacted, S. 864 is Public Law 98 - 540, approved October 24.