Deferred Maintenance and Repair

What is deferred maintenance and repair? 

The primary purpose of the Great American Outdoors Act National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund (GAOA LRF) is to invest in deferred maintenance and repair (DM&R) projects. DM&R is a maintenance and repair activity that was not performed when it should have been or was scheduled to be performed but was delayed to a future period. Typically, deferring required maintenance or repair needs is due to a lack of funding or available workforce. Deferring maintenance or repair activities over time can make assets such as buildings, trails, and campsites unsafe or unusable for staff and visitors.

The total U.S. Department of the Interior (Interior) DM&R backlog for the four GAOA LRF bureaus is estimated at approximately $30.8 billion as of September 2022. 

Deferred Maintenance and Repair for GAOA Legacy Restoration Fund (GAOA LRF) Bureaus by State

Click the image below to access an interactive heat map that displays the total dollar amount (in thousands) of DM&R by state for the four Interior GAOA LRF bureaus: the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the National Park Service (NPS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Darker colors indicate a higher DM&R total. Hover over or click on a state to see the total DM&R backlog and the DM&R backlog by bureau. The same information can be accessed in a table format below the map. Click here to download the data in Excel format.

 


Heat map showing DM&R in the US

Click on the map to view the heat map of the DM&R backlog.

Footnotes:
• In accordance with Statement of Federal Financial Accounting Standards 40, the U.S. Department of the Interior defines deferred maintenance and repair (DM&R) as maintenance and repair activity that was not performed when it should have been or was scheduled to be and which is put off or delayed to a future period. Maintenance and repairs are activities directed toward keeping fixed assets in an acceptable condition.
• This DM&R data set reflects each bureau’s complete asset inventory. This is a more comprehensive data set than what is reported in the Federal Real Property Portfolio (FRPP) and the U.S. Department of the Interior’s annual Agency Financial Report, which exclude certain categories of assets such as those that are non-owned, or assets assigned to other parties such as concessioners. The FY 2022 DM&R estimate for the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) includes Grounds which was not previously included in the FY 2021 data set.
• The DM&R estimate for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) includes DM&R for the entire bureau’s real property assets although National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund (GAOA LRF) monies can only be used for assets within the National Wildlife Refuge System.
• The DM&R estimates are from September 30, 2022, and will be refreshed annually as of September 30 of the preceding fiscal year.

 

Using GAOA LRF Funding to Address DM&R

Given the scale and complexity of LRF projects, many projects take multiple years to complete after GAOA funding has been awarded. The DM&R associated with assets in a project is generally not retired or removed from the backlog list until the GAOA LRF project is completed. Consequently, Interior’s DM&R backlog does not account for maintenance and repair projects that are in progress. 

As GAOA LRF projects begin to reach substantial completion, significant amounts of backlog will be addressed. The graph below forecasts the estimated DM&R that will be addressed each year, based on estimated project completion dates for enacted and proposed projects funded in the first four years of the GAOA LRF program. 


Bar graph shows estimated DM&R addressed by fiscal year, bell curve with peak in 2028 just below $1.6billion.

• Visualization is based on estimates as of September 2023, and is subject to change.
• Visualization assumes the DM&R for a given project will be removed approximately 15 months after construction work has been completed.

GAOA LRF funding alone cannot resolve all of Interior’s lifecycle maintenance needs and stop the growth of the DM&R backlog. Even with the largest investment in public lands infrastructure in the nation’s history, routine maintenance and repair needs continue to outpace available funding. Given these challenges, GAOA LRF’s role in addressing existing DM&R is crucial.
 

How Interior Takes Care of its Assets

Interior's Assets

The Interior manages 20 percent of the Nation’s lands and waters, including:

  • 480 million acres of land
  • 428 national park locations
  • 570 national wildlife refuges
  • 905 National Conservation Land units
  • 183 schools and 33 Tribal Colleges and Universities

Interior also manages the things that have been constructed on public lands and waters — our assets. Interior is responsible for taking care of its assets to help ensure visitors have a welcoming, safe, and enjoyable experience; to protect wildlife and the natural environment; and to preserve natural and cultural resources for this and future generations.

Monuments, marinas, roads, cemeteries, utilities, bridges, BIE-funded schools, picnic areas, employee housing, entrance stations, campgrounds, trails…these are just a few examples of the many types of assets Interior maintains so that millions of visitors each year can enjoy our public lands.

 

Maintenance

Maintenance activities help achieve an asset's originally anticipated life. To understand how Interior maintains its assets, consider a single asset such as a footbridge. Wooden bridges are plentiful on trails that crisscross our public lands, helping hikers cross streams and other obstacles. 

Since it is a Departmental asset, Interior must properly maintain the footbridge. We do this by:

  • Clearing vegetation from sides of the bridge
  • Inspecting the bridge for safety
  • Sanding the bridge tread to increase traction
  • Completing periodic, scheduled painting or other sealing treatment to preserve the wooden structure

 

Repair


A construction crew uses a small crane and manpower to lay out mats to form a new road in a dirt site


BLM Las Cruces District crews lay out and install articulating mats as part of a GAOA LRF funded road improvement project. Photo: BLM Las Cruces

Usage, time, and environmental conditions may deteriorate an asset, requiring repairs to return it to good condition. Keeping assets in good condition provides visitors with a safe and consistently high-quality experience. 

In BLM's Las Cruces District in New Mexico, two access road repair projects were completed with funding from GAOA LRF. Repairs involved rebuilding embankments where erosion had occurred and reconstructing water crossings. The projects resolved safety issues and helped ensure public visitors and government agency employees can access the public lands via the reconstructed roads.

 

Other Types of Asset Management

As the condition of an asset and the location’s needs change over time, other types of management actions may be required, including:

  • Alteration – While a repair restores an item to its previous good condition, alteration is work that adds, changes, or removes items to the building or systems. For example, a park may need to increase the size of a footbridge, perhaps to accommodate more foot traffic.
  • Recapitalization – Recapitalization involves the replacement of critical components or systems that extend the life of an asset, as well as major renovations without a significant change in function or capacity. For example, the structural support holding the footbridge up may need to be replaced in order to maintain the functionality and safety of the footbridge moving forward. 
  • Replacement – If the cost to maintain or repair an asset grows too high compared to its construction cost, it may need to be replaced. This involves substituting an entire asset with a new or equivalent asset. A footbridge that reaches the end of its useful life and deteriorates beyond repair, or that is washed away in a major flooding event, must be replaced. 
  • New Construction – Constructing a new asset means building something that did not exist before. Due to unsafe conditions on an existing trail, for example, a park may decide to relocate a river crossing to a safer location. An entirely new footbridge would be constructed with a different design to fit the new location.

    Construction vehicles clear an open, rural site after a demolition, with trees behind.


    Site of a demolished structure in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, with newly planted trees behind. Photo: NPS/Tim Fenner
  • Divestiture – When an asset no longer has value to an Interior site for any purpose, Interior needs to dispose of the asset to eliminate liability for the associated costs. Interior may demolish the asset or transfer it to another owner.

    In Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the National Park Service is completing a $2 million GAOA LRF project to remove 33 vacant structures and restore the land as forest. Some of the structures posed a safety hazard. The removal of the buildings eliminated more than $7 million of maintenance backlog.

 

Deferred Maintenance and Repair Backlog

When Interior does not receive enough funding to pay for all the maintenance and repairs that its assets require at the time these needs are identified, work may be deferred until later due to budget constraints paired with workforce limitations. The list of unfunded asset management needs is the DM&R backlog.

Infrastructure that is not properly cared for with scheduled maintenance and timely repair work can become unsightly, unsafe, more susceptible to damage, and can deteriorate more quickly. Deferring maintenance may increase the cost to maintain an asset over its lifetime. 

 

How GAOA LRF is Addressing the Deferred Maintenance Backlog

GAOA LRF directs up to $8.1 billion over five years (fiscal years 2021 through 2025) toward DM&R activity.

GAOA LRF funding alone cannot resolve all Interior's lifecycle management needs. Even with the largest public lands infrastructure investment in history, routine maintenance and repair needs continue to outpace available funding. However, GAOA LRF is an essential part of Interior’s concerted effort to address the extensive deferred maintenance and repair backlog.


Click an icon below to explore a bureau GAOA LRF website.


 
FWS logo with a duck taking off from the water

 
BLM logo with an illustrated mountain

 
BIE logo