Frequently Asked Questions

These questions and answers are intended to help explain the process of identifying, reporting, and addressing deferred maintenance and repairs and define some of the terms.

What is deferred maintenance and repairs (DM&R)?

Deferred maintenance and repairs (DM&R) is an estimate of how much it would cost to repair and restore deteriorating facilities to an acceptable and safe condition. DM&R is created when routine maintenance and repairs are delayed because of limited resources.

Why is the National Park Service maintenance backlog so large?

A combination of factors contribute to the growing repair backlog. The National Park Service maintains a complex portfolio of more than 75,000 assets, including historic structures, roads, bridges, trails, campgrounds, and utility systems. Much like a home, park facilities will always need ongoing care and maintenance. When preventive, recurring, and related maintenance programs are insufficient to keep pace with maintenance needs the backlog grows.

Does the National Park Service have needs beyond deferred maintenance and repairs?

DM&R is a good barometer of essential needs to properly restore park facilities to an acceptable condition. However, the National Park Service also needs to fund daily operational maintenance needs, life cycle upkeep to maintain assets in working condition, and improvements to meet current safety code requirements and make facilities accessible for visitors and employees.

Why did the National Park Service maintenance backlog double since 2018? Is it because the National Park Service is calculating what goes into the figure differently?

The new figures better represent the total funding necessary to bring National Park Service assets into acceptable condition. A combination of factors are reflected in the updated DM&R figures.

The National Park Service has extensive preventive and recurring maintenance needs resulting from aging infrastructure and heavy use which often exceeds the capacity for which it was designed. Funding related to maintenance is insufficient to keep pace with needs, which means maintenance is delayed adding to the backlog and resulting in compounding costs.

Through 2018, and unlike other bureaus within the Department of the Interior, the National Park Service only calculated the cost of construction in its deferred maintenance figures and did not include the full scope of construction-related costs like design and construction management. National Park Service DM&R estimates now reflects this fuller and truer cost.

The improved assessment process aligns with contemporary industry standards and the cost elements included in the figure are more consistent with other government DM&R calculations. Together, this provides a more comprehensive understanding of facility conditions.

More Deferred Maintenance & Repairs

  • Maintenance worker using a power drill on a boardwalk
    Deferred Maintenance and Repairs

    The National Park Service is working to address the repair backlog to preserve parks and provide a world-class visitor experience.

  • Trail crew working on a vertical stone wall
    By the Numbers

    Get a quick breakdown of deferred maintenance and repairs, including number of assets and costs.

  • Trail crew fixing nails on a boardwalk
    Identifying and Reporting

    Detailed reports on deferred maintenance and repairs are available by state and by national park or site.

Last updated: May 9, 2022