June 26, 2004 – Faced with a federal audit report showing payments of more than $90,000 owed the V.I. National Park, Superintendent Art Frederick went after the money. And within a few weeks, he says, two years' worth of uncollected fees due from concessionaires was accounted for.
The audit, conducted the U.S. Department of the Interior's Office of Inspector General, covered the years 2001 and 2002. The inspector general's report of the investigation findings said the problems that led to the shortfalls had been resolved. (See "Park Audit Highlights Lost Revenues".)
The audit was completed several months before he started his duties as head of the park last September, Frederick noted on Friday. "The investigation took place prior to my arrival," he said. "Shortly after I arrived, I got the report. The park had 45 days to address all the recommendations." He and his staff began doing so "as soon as we got the report."
Frederick credited the good relationship between the park and its major concessionaires for the quick resolution of the problems. According to the audit report, money went uncollected after the park administrator responsible for such collections retired and a volunteer was put in place.
Between 1999 and 2003, Frederick said, "we didn't have a contract management specialist in that position."
Most of the uncollected money consisted of fees owed by Caneel Bay Resort, the park's largest concessionaire. Fredericks said Caneel management recognized the discrepancy and resolved it without dispute.
Although the collection efforts were successful, Fredericks said, the V.I. National Park can't keep the money. Revenues received under concession contracts go to the National Park Service administration.
But the NPS in turn parcels out the funds throughout the park system, he said, so in a way, the St. John park will eventually be rewarded for its efforts.
Meantime, he said, park officials are now seeking resolution of outstanding fees with a number of smaller local concessionaires.
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