OMB orders merging of park reservation systems

OMB orders merging of park reservation systems

The Office of Management and Budget, exercising its powers under the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996, has instructed the Interior and Agriculture departments and the Army Corps of Engineers to consolidate the country’s two major recreation reservation systems by next October.

OMB director Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. sent a formal memorandum earlier this month ordering Interior to blend its National Park Reservation Service system with the Agriculture Department’s National Recreation Reservation Service, which is run by USDA’s Forest Service and the Corp of Engineers.

Daniels’ memo also makes the NRRS an executive agent for governmentwide IT acquisitions.

“Multiple government reservation systems make it difficult for the public to find and make reservations,” Daniels said in the memo. “Consolidating reservation systems will benefit the taxpayers because maintaining a single recreation reservation system is more efficient and cost-effective than having multiple agencies operate their own reservation systems.”

An OMB official said the two systems handle practically all reservations, but that Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and the Fish and Wildlife Service’s smaller systems will be included in the consolidated system as well.

OMB and the Recreation One Stop reservation initiative—one of OMB’s designated e-government initiatives—are setting up a Cross-Agency Project Management Office that will examine other recreation systems that could be included as well.

Employees are happy because the memo does not affect the budgets of the three agencies. But “anytime there’s simplifying and unifying, people feel bad,” the official said.

Interior funds its reservation systems through recreation fees such as cabin rentals. The fees will now fund the joint system rather than separate ones. Spending on both systems totals $12 million.

“The letter is formalizing an interagency decision made earlier this week, so we are quite fine with it,” said Scott J. Cameron, deputy assistant secretary for performance and management in Interior’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget. “It actually helps us do what we need to do, so it's a positive thing.”


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