Examining Misconduct and Mismanagement at the National Park Service

Full House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Full House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Hearing Date: September 22, 2016 1:00 pm 2154 Rayburn HOB

TAKEAWAYS:

  • NPS employees and supervisors who have engaged in misconduct or mismanagement have not been held accountable by leadership at the agency. Misconduct often goes unaddressed and perpetuates an environment where bad behavior is condoned or covered up.
  • Current NPS employees testified that a culture of tolerance and acceptance of misconduct plagues the agency. A lack of leadership leads to a hostile work environment including a fear of retaliation against individuals registering a complaint.
  • The NPS Deputy Director for Operations testified of a “zero tolerance” policy at the agency, even though few individual have been fired as a result of misconduct.
  • Individuals and supervisors guilty of misconduct or mismanagement are often promoted and/or allowed to retire with full retirement benefits.
  • Urgent reforms are needed at the agency in order to hold those guilty of misconduct accountable for their actions.

PURPOSE:

  • To examine the response by NPS to cases of harassment and misconduct in light of new reports of serious wrongdoing.
  • To explore ways NPS can improve its response to these problems and increase accountability for misbehavior.

BACKGROUND:

  • The Interior Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently found multiple instances of misconduct and unethical behavior throughout NPS.
  • In many cases, managers in senior leadership positions were not held accountable for their actions and were able to move laterally or retire to escape disciplinary action.
  • Since these reports have become public, additional allegations of serious harassment and misconduct have to come to light at some of the country’s most prominent national parks.

KEY VIDEOS:

Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT): “[O]f the 21 people the investigators interviewed, every single one of them, with one exception, described Yosemite as a hostile work environment as a result of the behavior and conduct of the parks superintendent. Why isn’t there immediate relief?”


Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI): “Do you believe Superintendent Neubacher’s actions to be an isolated incident, or are they reflective of a larger cultural problem within the Park Service?”


Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC): “[W]hen you have a fact pattern of someone spying on another person while they are taking a shower, you don’t need a policy change and you don’t need a new memo — you need handcuffs and a trip to the sex offender registry, that’s what you need.”

Witnesses and testimonies

Name Title Organization Panel Document
Mr. Michael Reynolds Deputy Director for Operations, National Park Service U.S. Department of Interior Document
Ms. Kelly Martin Chief of Fire and Aviation Management, Yosemite National Park, National Park Service U.S. Department of Interior Document
Mr. Brian Healy Fisheries Program Manager, Grand Canyon National Park, National Park Service U.S. Department of Interior Document

Related Documents

Name Document
Statement of Laura Williams Document
Testimony of Michelle L. Kearney Document
Anonymous Testimony Document
Testimony of Mark L. Nebel Document
Statement of Rachel Brady Document
Statement of Robert Hester Document