WASHINGTON - August 17 - The National Park Service is looking for a good man or woman to keep up with the whirlwind schedule of its director, Fran Mainella, who has pledged to visit every one of the 388 units of the national park system before she leaves office, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
The Park Service is now advertising for a GS-11with a salary range between $52,468 and $62,209. The position is called “Scheduling & Advance Coordinator” and its “major duties” include –
“Analyzes key or critical issues confronting the Director’s scope of travel and mission needs… Advises the Director as to potential impacts, media opportunities, relevant park issues, and events planning associated with travel and event participation. Prepares detailed, minute-by-minute itineraries for the Director’s travel.”
Ironically, the announcement of this new position comes a little more than a year after a contrite Director Mainella was hauled before an irate House Appropriations subcommittee to explain why NPS travel expenses had ballooned to more than $44 million during the prior year. While Mainella promised to curtail agency trips, since that time she has been constantly on the road.
During her four-year tenure as NPS Director, Mainella has already toured approximately 200 national parks, monuments and historic sites. Most of the Mainella visits are brief “grip and grin” stopovers that staff call “Fran’s Hops and Stops.”
“The Director of the National Park Service has become a junket junkie who appears to be in a panic that the gravy train is about to end,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “Given her peripatetic schedule, it is not surprising that Fran Mainella needs someone to brief her on what ‘relevant park issues’ are because I am sure that individual parks have become just a blur to her.”
At the same time, park budgets have been cut thin, as rising costs have outpaced appropriations. In the area of law enforcement, Teresa Chambers, the Chief of the U.S. Park Police, was fired for admitting to staff shortages – shortages that have only become more acute in the ensuing year since her removal.
“Apparently, it is more important for the Director to have a ‘minute-by-minute’ itinerary than it is to have an additional ranger at the volatile Organ Pipe National Monument, where run-ins with drug smugglers have become common,” Ruch added. “All the other National Park Service employees are being asked to do more with less except the Director.”