general nav links About ACHP
Federal, State, & Tribal Programs
Training & Education
| skip specific nav links
Home Historic Preservation Programs & Officers Federal NPS Fednote 1 on 1995 PA
The Section 106 guidance material below is based on previous regulations, but is still generally relevant when assessing a Federal undertaking's impact on historic properties.
The National Park Service Programmatic Agreement: How Is it Working?
January 21, 1997
First anniversary evaluation is generally positive
The signatories to the 1995 NPS Nationwide Programmatic Agreement (NPS, ACHP
and the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers) met in October 1996 to
evaluate the PA's utility as a tool for Section 106 compliance. While all agreed that the PA does
assist Parks in meeting their Section 106 responsibilities, additional information and feedback is
needed to determine what changes or implementing strategies may be in order. To address these
questions, a committee representing the signatories plans to meet during 1997.
This Fed-Note highlights key provisions of the Agreement, which went into effect October 1, 1995, concurrent with the National Park Service's reorganization. The Agreement is a revision of the 1990 NPS Nationwide Programmatic Agreement, reflecting the delegation of Section 106 responsibilities to Park Superintendents.
Periodic evaluation of the 1995 PA
The 1995 NPS agreement built in a way of monitoring how the PA has worked over time,
including holding a meeting among the signatories after its first year [Stipulation XII,
Monitoring, Termination, and Expiration] All other
monitoring is envisioned as taking place between parks and SHPOs [Stipulation IX,
Cooperation and Communications]. The first such
meeting was to be scheduled within the first six months of the agreement's effective date of
October 1, 1995; thereafter, each Park Superintendent is expected to invite the appropriate
SHPO(s) to meet every two years.
Under this schedule, SHPOs and Park Superintendents should be scheduling their second such evaluation meeting sometime during 1998. SHPOs may wish to contact Park Superintendents or the Park's Section 106 Coordinator to set up discussions in cases where no meeting has yet taken place.
The 1990 and 1995 NPS PAs differ from the several NPS PA documents they replaced in this
important way: the PA recognizes NPS' internal planning process, but differentiates the
completion of Section 106 review from the NPS planning process.
This change was made in 1990 because prior experience had proved it was not always possible to adequately reconcile the NPS planning process with Section 106 responsibilities. Drafters of the 1990 PA recognized, however, that informal consultation between NPS and SHPOs during the NPS planning process was both desirable and essential for fulfilling ACHP's regulations' encouragement of early Section 106 consultation. In unusual cases, ACHP may also elect to consult informally during the NPS planning process.
When NPS plans such as General Management Plans (GMP) or Development Concept Plans
(DCP) are scheduled for development, the 1995 NPS PA directs the Park to "request comments"
from ACHP about the plan's preservation concerns. Such concerns might include
management objectives, identification and evaluation of historic properties, and the potential
effects of individual undertakings (and alternatives) on historic properties. (See Stipulation
But this "request for comments" about the GMP or DCP is not the same as Section 106
compliance for the plan's component undertakings.
The Section 106 compliance process for the component undertakings is distinct from a comment on the plan itself.
Generally, NPS plans such as GMPs or Resource Management Plans do not include sufficient detail to permit simultaneous completion of Section 106 requirements for the plan's component undertakings. For this reason, the undertakings' Section 106 review usually would occur at a later time, when more information about the resources or understanding is available.
If information is available, Section 106 review of component undertakings can occur
simultaneously with NPS' request for general comments about the GMP or other plan. In fact, it
may be desirable to complete these two steps at the same time if funding is available for some or
all of the component undertakings. The key is whether there is adequate information at the "plan"
stage to sufficiently complete Section 106 requirements.
For project-specific plans, concurrent Section 106 review of component undertakings can work well. There are some types of NPS planning documentssuch as a project-specific Development Concept Planthat lend themselves to simultaneous commenting on the plan and the completion of Section 106 regulatory requirements for the plan's component undertaking(s). ACHP encourages this when project implementation is imminent.
The decision about simultaneous plan review and Section 106 compliance for component undertakings should be made by NPS at the outset of the planning process. The decision should be based upon: 1) when the component undertakings are likely to take place; and 2) whether adequate information about historic properties and effects is available at the outset.
The 1995 NPS PA lists specific types of non-adverse effect undertakings as "programmatic
exclusions." This means that they can be reviewed for Section 106 purposes by NPS park
personnel without further review by ACHP or SHPO. See Stipulation IV of the NPS PA
document for a complete description. In general terms, these
"programmatic exclusions" include:
Such programmatic exclusions do not apply if the undertaking has the potential to have an adverse effect on historic properties. Also not included are activities that have no potential to affect historic properties, in which case they do not constitute undertakings subject to Section 106, even though they may appear on the list.
The 1995 NPS PA lists certain documents that should guide decisions made under the agreement.
The 1995 PA continues a special system of information sharing and communications among ACHP, SHPO(s) and NPS. This feature of the agreement differs from normal Section 106
review practices: it assigns to the SHPO and ACHP the responsibility for notifying NPS Park
Superintendents and bringing them into consultation when any NPS area may be affected by an
undertaking proposed by other Federal agencies. (See Stipulation IX. C, and E.)
In addition, the SHPO treats the Park Superintendent as an "interested person" under State
environmental and preservation laws with regard to NPS undertakings and cultural resources.
Some points to keep in mind about this provision are: