Norton Demands NPS Pay Thousands Owed to District Taxpayers

Jan 10, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) released a letter today sent to National Park Service (NPS) Acting Director David Vela requesting an update on NPS’s plans to reimburse the District of Columbia more than $78,000 for removing trash from specified NPS locations during the 35-day government shutdown of 2018-2019.  Norton noted that the District – at the request of NPS – removed trash three times each day using 460 regular work hours, more than 1,100 overtime hours, and District equipment.  The District has been seeking reimbursement from NPS since March 2019.  Norton had sent a letter to Acting Director Vela on November 18, 2019, requesting an update, but has not received a response.  Yesterday’s letter requested a response within seven days.

“At the specific request of NPS, the District of Columbia assisted in maintaining federal parks that NPS was unable to maintain during the shutdown – at considerable expense to District taxpayers,” Norton said.  “Nearly a year has gone by since the District requested reimbursement and I have grown increasingly concerned by NPS’s lack of response.  If NPS does not reimburse the District promptly, we will take congressional action to obtain funds spent and now owed to the District.”

Norton’s full letter is below.

January 9, 2020

David Vela

Acting Director

National Park Service

U.S. Department of the Interior

1849 C Street NW

Washington, DC 20240

Dear Acting Director Vela:

I sent you a letter on November 18, 2019, expressing concern that the District of Columbia had not been reimbursed by the National Park Service (NPS) for removing trash from NPS property, at NPS’s request, during the 35-day government shutdown in 2018-2019.  I am concerned that the District has yet to be reimbursed.  I am further concerned that NPS has not yet responded to my letter, despite my request for a response within 30 days.

As I indicated in my letter, during the 35-day federal government shutdown, which lasted from December 22, 2018, to January 25, 2019, the D.C. government used its local funds to remove trash from NPS property, at the request of NPS.  The District states it spent $78,685.58 to remove trash from specified NPS locations around the District three times each day during the shutdown.  The costs consisted of 460 regular hours of work, 1,111.50 hours of overtime, and equipment and tonnage. 

The District has been seeking reimbursement from NPS since March 2019.  On March 22, 2019, the Associate Regional Director, David Moore, indicated in an email to the District that the reimbursement was being processed.  Despite these assurances and my inquiry into the status of the reimbursement, the District has yet to be reimbursed.  I reiterate the need for NPS to reimburse the District promptly, consistent with applicable law, rules and regulations.  Please respond in writing within seven days indicating if, and when, NPS plans to reimburse the District.


Eleanor Holmes Norton