Parks and Memorials Bills: S 760 and HR 1849



STATEMENT OF KATHERINE H. STEVENSON,

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, BUSINESS SERVICES, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE,

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,

BEFORE THE

SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS,

COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES,

UNITED STATES SENATE,

CONCERNING S. 760,

 A BILL TO DESIGNATE THE LIBERTY MEMORIAL

AT THE NATIONAL WORLD WAR I MUSEUM IN KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI,

AS THE "NATIONAL WORLD WAR I MEMORIAL"

AND H.R. 1849,

A BILL TO DESIGNATE THE LIBERTY MEMORIAL

AT THE NATIONAL WORLD WAR I MUSEUM IN KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI,

AS THE NATIONAL WORLD WAR I MEMORIAL,

TO ESTABLISH THE WORLD WAR I CENTENNIAL COMMISSION

TO ENSURE A SUITABLE OBSERVANCE OF THE CENTENNIAL OF WORLD WAR I,

AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES. 

December 3, 2009 

Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to appear before your committee to present the views of the Department of the Interior on S. 760 and H.R. 1849, bills to designate the Liberty Memorial at the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, as the National World War I Memorial.H.R. 1849 also establishes the World War I Centennial Commission to ensure a suitable observance of the centennial of World War I.

The Administration appreciates the sponsors' recognition of the sacrifices of Americans who served in World War I.This is an important era in American history which has been honored through a number of monuments throughout the nation.The Administration shares the sponsors' sentiment on this subject and would like to continue working with the Congress on it.

We believe however, that it is premature to designate the Liberty Memorial at the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, as the National World War I Memorial. There has not been any study authorized or conducted to determine which of the various World War I Memorials in the United States would be best suited to be named as the single or official National World War I Memorial.The Department of the Interior supports the intent of establishing a World War I Centennial Commission; however, the Department of Justice has advised that it has constitutional concerns about certain appointment provisions in the bill and we understand Justice is providing its recommended amendments to the Committee to resolve these concerns.  The Office of Personnel Management and the Office of Government Ethics would also welcome the opportunity to work with the Committee to address matters related to the status of the Commission's members and employees for purposes of various laws governing Federal employment.  We defer to those agencies for the specifics of their concerns..

Both S. 760 and H.R. 1849 as passed by the House would designate the Liberty Memorial at the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, as the National World War I Memorial.H.R. 1849 also would establish the World War I Centennial Commission to plan and execute various activities to commemorate the centennial of World War I, encouraging private organizations and other governmental entities to participate in the centennial, and coordinate these activities throughout the United States.The Commission would consist of 21 members appointed by the President and certain members of Congress and would also include the executive director of the American Legion and the president of the Liberty Memorial Association.The bill authorizes $500,000 for fiscal years 2010 through 2019 to carry out the activities of the commission.The Administrator of General Services would provide the administrative support services to the Commission.

Mr. Chairman, our Department would be pleased to work with the Commission if it is established.This concludes my testimony.I will be pleased to answer any questions from members of the Committee.