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The Role Of PMIS In The Servicewide Comprehensive Call (SCC)

The NPS budget cycle is complex, and is so precisely because of its cyclical nature, because it is always in motion. We are always working on different stages of the process simultaneously. We spend funds during the current fiscal year while planning for future years, and sometimes while Congress is legislating our budget for the coming year. The SCC is the formal beginning of a new round of planning for future budgets, and aims to increase communication and cooperation at all levels of the National Park Service. Since the NPS budget cycle takes nearly two years to complete, the SCC is announced at the beginning of each new Fiscal Year for planning two years in advance. For example, in October 2008 (the start of FY09), the SCC will be announced for FY2011.

The SCC asks parks and NPS program offices to identify needs both for base operating increases as well as one-time project funding. PMIS supports the SCC by enabling the identification, justification, approval, and prioritization of all unfunded project needs, while the Operations Formulation System (OFS) is used to identify needed base funding increases. The SCC is traditionally issued in October, and due in the Washington Budget Office by the following February or March. This timetable requires that parks and regions set earlier deadlines, typically with park submissions due to regional offices in December or January.

The information contained in PMIS is important because it serves as one of two sources for formulating the NPS budget request. In addition, the information in PMIS is used to provide the official NPS response to all internal and external inquiries about unfunded project needs and the strategy for addressing those needs.

Park/Unit-level Responsibilities in the SCC

In response to the annual SCC, parks (acting within the parameters of guidance received from DOI and NPS senior leadership, as well as regional and Servicewide program managers) ensure their most recent requirements are identified—one-time projects in PMIS, and recurring base operating needs in OFS. Invalid entries should be purged from PMIS and OFS during an annual data clean-up in both systems. Prior to the regional office due date of the SCC, park/unit staff enter and update projects in PMIS, then approve and prioritize all funding priorities for the park/unit.

Once a park/unit or park-level program office has locked its priorities under the current SCC, authors of PMIS projects go back into the system to select eligible funding categories for the components of each approved and prioritized project. Based on the selection of eligible funding categories, park/unit staff will then respond to fund-specific criteria on each project component that has fund source specific embedded criteria. And finally, after component criteria have been addressed, the park must mark components “submitted” to signal the regional office that they are ready for review.

Regional Office Responsibilities in the SCC

The first order of business for each regional office is to establish deadlines for park/units and program offices to submit budget requests through PMIS and OFS. The regional office then reviews and prioritizes these requests before submitting them to WASO by the SCC due date. Typically, regional offices will set deadlines in December or January to allow four to eight weeks for review of park/unit submissions.

Regional staff will review park/unit projects and approve or reject them based on how well the projects meet funding category criteria. Before approval, the region may return a project to the park with a request to edit certain information. Approved projects will then be assigned to a specific fund source that is applicable to the work described by the park. This process is known as formulation, and becomes the critical step at the WASO level. Most fund sources represent a specific appropriation by Congress, and when all park/unit submissions coming through the regional offices are pooled together, it describes the total need throughout the NPS for each fund source for the future budget year in question. The same is true of fund sources that are not congressional appropriations, like Concessions and Recreation Fees. Some fund sources also require that regional offices forward PMIS requests to WASO for further review, editing, and approval or disapproval.

Washington Office Responsibilities in the SCC

The WASO Budget Office is responsible for issuing the SCC memo in October of each year and compiling all the budget guidance that will be needed by park/unit and regional office staff to prepare and submit funding requests. This information is posted on the intranet, and includes links to regional Web sites that may contain additional information about the SCC.

Depending on the office, other WASO staff may have responsibilities identical to the park/unit or regional office level, and for servicewide program offices, there is an additional level of project review by senior leadership

NPS Budget Cycle: As noted in preceding paragraphs, the cyclical image shows the progression of the finding process throughout each governmental level of the NPS budget cycle.

Five-Year Budget Planning

A five-year budget plan for the NPS is required by the Department of the Interior (DOI). This plan must be presented to Congress as part of the annual NPS Budget Justification (Greenbook). Establishing five-year plans is also a vital part of the park/unit budgeting process, and can be accomplished through the entry of project needs in PMIS. When a park/unit documents all its anticipated needs in PMIS for a five-year period, the needs can then be vetted through the regional and WASO review process. This process is designed to prioritize these requests relative to other park and Servicewide needs in conjunction with anticipated future funding levels.

When park/units prioritize and submit requests to regions, the regions then formulate those requests to specific fund sources based on the ability of the requests to successfully compete for funding during the five-years. Once regions have completed the formulation of park/unit requests with the concurrence of WASO, a five-year budget plan for a region can be easily generated using the 5-Year Plans canned report (see Generate Reports section under Basic PMIS Functions). This process ensures formulated requests will fit within anticipated available funding. Subsequently, park/units may reference the 5-Year Plans to see how their requests fared in the Servicewide process, and can use the information to develop their own work plans. Park/unit entry of all current and future project needs in PMIS is vital to developing the Servicewide five-year plans.

Five-year planning also contributes to:

  • Budget estimates for Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) goals for park/unit strategic plans
  • Justification of requested funding levels and requests for Servicewide program increases
  • Development of annual work plans
  • Maintenance of historical data critical to servicewide program reporting
  • Program accountability, and
  • Illustration of total financial resources available to the NPS.
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Park/Unit Prioritization
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PMIS Contribution
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Self Quiz 2
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