What's a birthday party without a surprise? That seems to be the case with the National Park Service's silence on how it plans to mark its centennial in 2016.
Though the centennial has been talked about by top Interior Department and Park Service officials since 2007, at least, the Park Service apparently hasn't drafted any road map for how the celebration will be rolled out, according to Public Employees For Environmental Responsibility.
For the past six months, PEER has sought records detailing the NPS Centennial outreach plans and the sources of funding. After producing one Request-for-Proposal for a national advertising contract, NPS insisted that it had no other responsive documents, despite:
* Industry trade paper accounts that NPS selected the Grey Group to spearhead “a multiplatform communications initiative,” estimated to cost $6 million annually for the five years leading up to the Centennial;
* Creation of an NPS Centennial Office in February 2012, reporting to Jarvis, as well as an in-house task force to develop a second century “vision” strategy; and
* The existence of a 30-member NPS Centennial Advisory Committee, created in June 2011, which had multiple meetings and had arranged Jarvis to meet with advertising/marketing firms.
The lack of a planning paper trail strikes PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch as curious.
“The Park Service seems to be staging the grandest self-celebration in the history of the Republic but says it has committed virtually nothing about it to writing,” Mr. Ruch said in a release Wednesday, when the organization filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain withheld records.
Park Service officials declined to respond to PEER's release, saying that, "as a matter of policy," they don't discuss matters involving a lawsuit.