NPS director reprimanded for ethics violation -- Guess why he says he did it - Shooting The Breeze


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NPS director reprimanded for ethics violation -- Guess why he says he did it

Friday 11 March 2016 at 5:07 pm.

There's been so much news on Hatteras and Ocracoke in the past weeks that it's been hard to keep up with the news from elsewhere.  Television, these days, is about nothing but the 2016 Presidential election, so I took some time this week to look around on other news sites.

And I found some curious and somewhat surprising news articles about Jonathan Jarvis, the director of the National Park Service.

According to published news stories and documents from the Department of the Interior, Jarvis was reprimanded late last month for an ethics violation. The reprimand came after a report from the inspector general for the department on a book that Jarvis wrote, which was  ironically about American values.

The book, "Guidebook to American Values and Our National Parks," was published last June by Eastern National, a private, non-profit that supports national parks by, among other things, publishing books and running bookstores for the Park Service.

On its website, Eastern National describes the book this way:

"As it prepares to celebrate its centennial in 2016, the National Park Service now manages more than 400 special places. This book, written by Jonathan B. Jarvis, the 18th director of the National Park Service, examines the evolution of the national park idea. What unites this increasingly diverse system of natural wonderlands and historic sites in an increasingly diverse nation, are the values we share in common.

"Director Jarvis lists more than 50 values—such as bravery, patriotism, honesty, sacrifice, and honor, and provides examples of parks that illuminate them. This book features dozens of color photographs of national parks and includes a preface written by Dayton Duncan."

I searched online for reviews of the book, but found only one rather unflattering review that attacked the book.  And I found a lot of articles about the ethics violation flap.

The book, I am sure, is very positive publicity for the national parks, so there's no problem there.  But it seems that last June, the Department of the Interior chief of staff, notified the inspector general's office that Jarvis had published the book without consulting DOI's Ethics Office, which is required by the department's policy. The inspector general's office began an investigation, which was published on the DOI website on Feb. 25.

"We focused our investigation," the report said, "on whether Jarvis used his public office for private gain by seeking a book deal with Eastern National and whether he misused any U.S. Government resources in the process. We also examined Jarvis' involvement in Eastern National Matters at NPS around the time of his book deal, and we reviewed Jarvis' decision not to seek ethics advice from the Ethics Office for the book."

Ethics Office guidelines specifically state that government employees who want to do outside work with businesses or organizations seeking to do business with the Department of the Interior must first seek approval from the office, whether payment is involved or not.

Jarvis told investigators that he did not seek to be paid for the book and directed that royalties go to the National Park Foundation, which some DOI officials found also could be an ethical issue since Jarvis sits on the board of the foundation.

Interior officials also were concerned that Jarvis retained the copyright on the book and approved the use of the NPS arrowhead logo on the cover, "giving the appearance of government endorsement."

Jarvis used his government iPad to write the book, and said he wrote it outside of office hours.  The investigators said that it "appeared" that there were at least nine occasions when Jarvis worked on the book or corresponded about the book "when he was not on leave and government offices were open."

Michael Connor, deputy secretary in the Interior Department, responded to the inspector general's report.

"The Department takes this matter very seriously and is in the process of taking appropriate personnel actions," he wrote.

Jarvis was reprimanded by DOI officials, relieved of his responsibility to manage the NPS ethics program for the remainder of his tenure as director, and is required to attend monthly ethics training for the remainder of his tenure.

"I am also concerned," Connor wrote, "about the attitude that the (report on the investigation) demonstrates Director Jarvis exhibited toward important Departmental institutions such as the Ethics Office, the Office of the Solicitor, and the Office of the Secretary....Senior leaders, including Director Jarvis must model constructive engagement with these offices."

Connor said he had met with Jarvis and was "satisfied" that Jarvis understood the "unacceptable nature of his conduct."

In a short statement after the report and reprimand were made public, Jarvis said, "I regret that I did not seek guidance on the most appropriate path forward to publish this book.  I wrote the book to inspire and engage more Americans in our national parks, especially during the National Park Service's centennial year.  I consider it a good lesson learned and will ask for guidance if and when similar situations arise in the future."

I've got to say that I don't really believe that Jarvis was trying to profit from his book on the parks and American values and I really don't care if he used his government iPad, but I am astounded that a public official at his level would intentionally ignore ethics guidelines -- especially since he had to be somewhat politically savvy to have reached the level he has in public service.

And I have to admit that I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I read the reason that Jarvis chose not to consult with the Ethics Office.

He told the investigators that he didn't discuss the project with DOI ethics officials "because doing so would have taken too long, and with the NPS' centennial approaching, the book would be 'really powerful.'"

Jarvis admitted that he knew he would "probably get into trouble."

The investigators wrote in their report that they asked Jarvis if he would have done anything differently.

"Would I have done the same thing?" Jarvis said, according to the report." Probably...I think I knew going into this there was a certain amount of risk. I've never been afraid of a risk....I've gotten my ass in trouble many, many, many times in the Park Service by .... not necessarily getting permission...I've always pushed the envelope."

He also said he felt that the book's values analysis could be "a very, very powerful tool to not only connect to the next generation but to resonate across political spectrums...And it could be a little bit of something that I could give back to the Park Service, to the Foundation, to sort of set the bar in a place that I feel that it needs to be for our second century."

And he said that if he wrote the book "on the job" with all of the "machinations that go on in here, the Department, Communications, Solicitor's wouldn't happen...So I took the risk knowingly, I guess."

The director of the National Park Service didn't consult with his own department because everything takes so long that he was afraid his project would never happen.

Now, you may say that Jarvis chose not to consult because he is arrogant.  I guess it could come across that way, but I have to admit that I felt some sympathy for the guy when I read those passages in the report.

I guess he does know how the rest of us feel about having to live with the Park Service bureaucracy, day in and day out.  

Furthermore, apparently no one is going to get rich from the 60-page, softcover book that sells for $7.95.

An Eastern National official told the investigators that it had cost them $11,000 to $12,000 to print the book and they had sold only a few more than 200 copies.  They said they didn't expect to recoup their investment.


Click here to read The Department of the Interior's investigative report on Jonathan Jarvis.
Click here to read the response of DOI deputy secretary Michael Connor.


The National Park Service has just finished a series of five meetings on proposed changes to its off-road vehicle final rule for Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

The five meetings were not as well attended as NPS meetings usually are around here. According to the NPS, 51 people attended the Buxton meeting, three attended the Ocracoke meeting, 19 attended in Kitty Hawk, and 22 attended meetings in Hampton, Va., and Raleigh.

Local access organizations -- such as the North Carolina Beach Buggy Association, the Outer Banks Preservation Association, and Cape Hatteras Anglers Club -- want to see comments rolling in from those who support more reasonable access to the seashore's beaches.

Just as this blog was being posted on Friday afternoon, we received information from  the Cape Hatteras Access Preservation Alliance -- which includes NCBBA, OBPA, CHAC, and local business owners -- with their comments on the NPS proposed alternatives.

"We have repeatedly compromised our positions in an effort to resolve differences with other groups and NPS," the group said in its cover letter to seashore Superintendent David Hallac. "Vehicle access has been reduced from 67 miles to 28 miles plus seasonal routes of 13 miles all of which are subject to closure during nesting seasons which for the most part occur during the prime tourist seasons. Additionally, the number of access ramps has been reduced from 27 to 20."

CHAPA says that it recognizes elements in action Alternatives 1, 2 and 3 "will positively impact the visitor experience at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore," but, the group says, no alternative fully adopts the suggestions for changes to the Final ORV rule submitted in August, 2015, during the public scoping process conducted by NPS."

"Several modifications must be made to the ultimately chosen alternative to achieve the objectives of the legislation which led to this process," the comments say.

CHAPA  submitted a "Comparison of Alternatives Table" that provides information to explain its positions. It is a copy of "Table 1. Alternatives Summary" from the Environmental Assessment, modified to include a column which documents for comparison the CHAPA suggestions submitted in the 2015 scoping process. CHAPA believes those suggestions submitted in 2015 remain appropriate today.

Here is the Comparison of Alternatives Chart.

The five areas of the Final Rule considered for modifications in the EA are discussed below here: Full CHAPA, NCBBA Response (10 pages)

Click here for information on the alternatives that the Park Service is proposing for the changes and how to comment.


Don't forget to vote in the primary elections on Tuesday, March 15.  Polls are open from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m.

Click here for  more information on the elections.

Click here to see the Outer Banks Sentinel's section for voters with more information on candidates, including those who are running for seats on the Dare County Board of Education.



Thanks for this story!! Example of too much redemption tape/incompetence, but also of passion for mission of the NPS, stewards of the special places. I will purchase one of these, I support and encourage all defenders of our great National treasures. Hopefully, intelligent upper mgmt. Will evaluate the disconnect.

KMStreehugs - 11-03-’16 18:47
Al B Noyemous

If he had only used one of Hillary’s servers, everything would have been okay.

Al B Noyemous - 11-03-’16 19:43

Jusr another delusional democrat that doesn’t think the law or ethics applies to them. Corruption; Seems to be part of the Democratic platform doesn’t it?

AnonVisitor - 11-03-’16 20:10
Dave H

This is a prime example of what occurs with unchecked government such that the current administration desires. The rules only apply selectively and many ignore them, thinking that they are if not immune from the law, at least somewhat above it!Public servants of any stripe should ALWAYS be held to a higher standard. The motive for profit is irrelevant. If the average citizen breaks a government rule and are caught, they are held to account.

Dave H - 11-03-’16 20:30
Jim W.

Do some background checks on Director Jarvis. This is not the first time he has been involved in questionable conduct! Lining his pockets so to speak.

Jim W. - 12-03-’16 05:04

It just another sign of the times. The government has huge staff of lawyers waiting to review everything done by the agencies. But for one purpose only, to SAVE FACE of the politicians. Not to save the taxpayers, not to save intent of the program, only to save the seated government from criticism or embarrassment. The book is probably a nice journal for the Park Service and someday may be worth more than $7.95 but the real lesson here is EVEN THE TOP MOST PERSON IN THE AGENCY AVOIDED THE STUPID PROCESSES. And yet we need to live with them, go figure.

Jack - 12-03-’16 08:55

Why wasn’t this man fired? Oh, that right, no one in government is ever fired.

Dumps - 12-03-’16 09:58

Dumps, you are right and issues that make zero common sense to the masses never seems to get fixed. Reminds me of the flooded lighthouse road, ramps 43-44, and the Cape Point campground. What in the hell is the NPS thinking here? Breeding Zika is good?

Ricky - 12-03-’16 12:11
Denny in Dayton

Another case of do as I say, not as I do. The guy has always come across as arrogant. We are supposed to live with the bureaucracy, but HE can go around it.

There is a kind of similar case in the City of Atlanta where the fire chief wrote a self published book (download/print) on his own time. It was intended as a guide for a men’s bible study for his and other churches. By Atlanta ethics he also had to show it for approval(city council and FD management), and when he did someone didn’t like at one point he listed among other sins homosexuality. An openly gay council member got fired up, made lots of anti Christian comments and got him fired. Yes fired. It’s in court and by the looks of it the ex cheif is going to pick some green leaves off Atlanta’s money tree.

This case could however impact Jarvis. A big part of the argument is First Amendment, that freedom of speech should allow you to write a book on your time and not have to get government approval. Of course what the inspector general is looking at is the use of a government computer (who cares) and possibly time at work (another no big deal, he probably does work on his time), but the use of the NPS logo is a real mistake. If he had without permission used the logo of a corporation say GE, Proctor and Gamble or Microsoft they would have come down on him and his publisher like an anvil.

But as usual, if you are a conservative Christian, you get fired, if you are a liberal, you just go on. (example Hillary, example Janet Reno, they always “take full responsibility”, but never follow that up with “I resign”)

Denny in Dayton - 13-03-’16 07:52

Just goes to show the type of criminal that runs the agencies that are out to destroy residents of Hatteras island.

Bud - 13-03-’16 08:43

It’s appears that self-destruction within the Republican party seems to bleed over to advocacy of ORV beach access. I believe the outcome will be the same: self destruction.

Guest - 13-03-’16 14:07
Hey Audubon

Looks like there’s a Billfish in the water.

Hey Audubon - 13-03-’16 15:20

The fire chief’s crime was in using his position to promote bigotry. Cochran has a right and freedom to blather about his bigotry, Atlanta has no duty to employ a bigot or support his bigotry. There are multiple precedence of employers winning cases for terminating employees for behaviors/statements committed/uttered outside of the workplace.

Jarvis’s crime is using the NPS seal (without approval) to promote the national park system – there should be sanctions though.

FKAA - 15-03-’16 16:24
Denny in Dayton

FKAA your sheer ignorance is without compare.

The fire Chiefs “book” was more of pamphlet. But he tried to follow the rules placed upon him. Jarvis did not and THAT is his crime.

What was bigoted in the chiefs book? He expressed his beliefs on what are sins. What’s wrong with that? He listed many sins, some of which many of us have committed. We are all sinners. And isn’t this protected by the 1st amendment?

This is a big problem I have. The Chief was ordered to “diversity training”, but the gay council person who didn’t understand what the Chief was saying wasn’t. Why aren’t those who don’t understand Biblical teaching sent to learn it so they understand and then can accept diverse thinking?

Why is it always the liberal who want to ban free speech?

Denny in Dayton - 15-03-’16 22:24


Apparently you do not believe that American law should exist except through your personal lens of Christian religion. I got news for you Bucko, the United States of America has no religious affiliation. Bigotry and discrimination from a government employee is against the law. If you rather have a religious state, perhaps you should consider what’s going on with the Islamic State and it’s strict adherence to religious/supernatural laws. I’d rather live in a nation with a Constitution that separates religion and state.

Guest - 16-03-’16 11:11
Point of order

1. The words “Separation of church and state” do not appear in the US Constitution.

2. Bigotry is not against the law.

3. Non-agreement is not bigotry.

Point of order - 16-03-’16 13:12

Point one, two and three are ridiculous
1) This is just a response to be argumentative. You already understand the meaning and the reason.
2) Except for in the role of a government servant of the people.
3) Except for in the role of a government servant of the people when it comes to upholding our nation ‘s laws.

Guest - 16-03-’16 13:30

“Separation of church and state” is a phrase used by Thomas Jefferson and others expressing an understanding of the intent and function of the Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Either way, the “separation” phrase has since been repeatedly used by the Supreme Court of the United States.

CCB - 16-03-’16 13:34
Point of order


You’re still as wrong on all three count now as you were before.

Unless you can prove that the words separation of church and state are in the Constitution, show case law that proves bigotry is illegal, and likewise show that simple disagreement is lawfully considered bigotry.

Apologies for being off-topic, but some glaring errors require rebuttal.

Point of order - 16-03-’16 14:26
Mike Hansen

Just in from Island Free Press. Good to see somebody is on it. Hatteras Island should have a big zero drawn on its’ back. At the March 7 Board of Commissioners’ meeting, Dr. Sheila Davies, director of the Dare County Public Health Division, gave an update on the Zika virus – the most recent mosquito-related virus to garner international attention.

Mike Hansen - 17-03-’16 12:56
Denny in Dayton

Dear Guest or FKAA or whoever you are.

First how did Chief Cockran “discriminate”? There was a full investigation that found ZERO instances discrimination by the Chief. None, he was well liked and nobody had complaints against him other than the gay council person.

“bigot” refers to a person whose habitual state of mind includes an obstinate, irrational, or unfair intolerance of ideas, opinions, ethnicities, or beliefs that differ from their own, and intolerance of the people who hold them.

Dear guest simply saying you think someone sins doesn’t even get close to that. Acting on it could, but the Chief never did, he was very tolerant. So who was intolerant? The gay council person who acted like the above definition.

Back to Jarvis (Guest and FKAA want to lead us away from that). What Jarvis and Cochran have in common is their First Amendment right to speech, which would include writing books. Why should your employer have the “right” to demand they preview and approve their speech?

In the case of Cochran a church Deacon, writing something for church consumption there should be none, yet he got fired. In Jarvis case he too should have such rights under the First Amendment, but if in the book he cites himself as NPS director and tries to make it an “official” publication, he’s the one who should be fired, and that’s the point. But I don’t think they should have a demand at first review.

The other thing that has come to mind is what a lousy publisher. Part of their job is to see that all the credits and permissions are in place, in writing. There are a lot of photos in this book apparently, if I were a photographer like Don Bowers I’d check out a copy to see if any of my photos were in there without my permission.

Denny in Dayton - 17-03-’16 20:22


I haven’t seen the pamphlet, but I bet a dollar to a doughnut he didn’t commiserate about the sins of eating shellfish, or wearing clothes of blended fiber and other Levitican Laws most ala carte Christians choose to ignore.

Homosexuality seems to be the only one they cherry-pick from those old commandments to support their prejudices. Leviticus puts homosexuality in the same category as eating a ham sandwich, sowing two crops in one field, or shaving.

The New Testament actually says nothing about homosexuality being a sin. The are two erroneous translations of “arsenokoitai” as homosexual in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:10 which actually refer to rapists AKA sodomites.

But, if the fire chief’s scribe also bemoaned the fact Red Lobster commercials on TV were destroying the fabric of America, I’ll retract my assertions his writings are rooted in just bigotry.

Finally, his free speech rights have not been banned. He is free to shout his beliefs from the rooftops. He just can’t do it as a representative of the government. BTW, Georgia is a “right-to-work” state, so he can be fired for no cause.

*Note, I didn’t give Jarvis a pass and said he should be sanctioned for his actions and you were the one who “sidetracked” the issue with a “similar” case.

FKAA - 20-03-’16 12:54

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