The “Washington Monument syndrome” (or “Washinton Monument strategy") is when an agency, faced with budget cuts, decides to cut its most popular programs, making the cuts very visible and immediately felt. In 1969, National Parks Director George B. Hartzog, Jr. (1920-2008) responded to budget cuts by closing national parks for two days a week—including landmarks such as the Washington Monument. Congress restored financing to his agency.
The term “Washington Monument Syndrome” does not appear to have been used in 1969, but has been cited in print since at least the mid-1970s.
Wikipedia: Washington Monument Syndrome
Washington Monument Syndrome, also called the “Mount Rushmore Syndrome”, is the name of a political tactic allegedly used by government agencies when faced with reductions in the rate of projected increases in budget or actual budget cuts. The most visible and most appreciated service that is provided by that entity is the first to be put on the chopping block. The name derives from the National Park Service’s alleged habit of saying that any cuts would lead to an immediate closure of the wildly popular Washington Monument.
The Washington Monument Syndrome emerged as a euphemism for cutting the most visible services after George Hartzog, the seventh National Parks Director, closed popular national parks like the Washington Monument and the Grand Canyon for two days a week in 1969. The intent of the closures may not have been to get people to complain to Congress, but the effect was that Congress received complaints, Hartzog was fired, and the funding was restored.
American Academy for Park & Recreation Administration
George B. Hartzog, Jr.
Cornelius Amory Pugsley National Medal Award, 1967
George B. Hartzog, Jr. (1920-2008) received the Pugsley Medal in 1967. He was the seventh director of the National Park Service.
When the Nixon Administration cut the NPS budget in 1969, Hartzog responded by closing all the national parks for two days a week, including prominent landmarks like the Washington Monument. He later commented, “It was unheard of; even my own staff thought I was crazy.” There was political criticism by both Republicans and Democrats, but the magnitude of citizen complaints persuaded Congress to reverse its decision and restore the funds. Hartzog’s strategy was dubbed the “Washington Monument Syndrome” by The Washington Post.
“There’s a tendency on the part of the agencies to close the Washington Monument ,” said one OMB official. (The Interior Department budget office recalls that George B. Hartzog Jr., director of the National Park Service from 1964-72, ...
Educational Policy in the Carter Years
By Christopher Taylor Cross; et al.
Washington, DC: Institute for Educational Leadership
There’s been a bit of the “Washington Monument Syndrome” in the budget.
Google News Archive
13 March 1980, The Hour (Norwalk, CT), “‘Washington Monument’ Syndrome Again” by Donald Lambro, pg. 4, col. 2:
WASHINGTON (UPI)—In the continuing battle of the budget the “Washington Monument Syndrome” is being used persistently, and thus far successfully, to resist any attempts to sharply cut wasteful spending.
The syndrome is a little known device people in the bureaucracy and Congress used to combat efforts to cut deeply into nonessential government programs.
As the story goes, when the Interior Department, under a previous administration, was asked to submit a list of proposed budget cuts, officials came back with proposals that began with cutting the elevator service in the Washington monument.
While the story may be apocryphal, the technique is real—as taxpayers have witnessed in recent weeks.
27 September 1981, New York (NY) Times, “As Costs Rise, Convention Center Gets Scaled Down” by Joyce Purnick, pg. E8:
“You’re dealing with what we call the Washington Monument syndrome,” said one of the critics, State Comptroller Edward V. Regan, who went on to relate what he promised was not going to be an apocryphal tale. Once, he said, the Department of the Interior was ordered to cut its budget. Officials promptly recommended closing the Washington Monument. “And you know what happened after that, of course—the cuts didn’t take place,” said Mr. Regan.
6 November 1981, New York (NY) Times, “The Name of the Game Is Ducking the Budget Ax” by Robert D. Hershey, pg. A16:
Some budget office people call this the Washington Monument Syndrome—the age-old device practiced with a vengeance this year of responding to any spending reduction with threats to chop a highly visible and politically popular service.
The Politics of Plunder:
Misgovernment in Washington
By Doug Bandow
New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers
Indeed, Boorstin has become the leading practitioner of the so-called (Pg. 157—ed.) Washington Monument syndrome, that is, responding to proposed budget cuts by threatening to sacrifice the most politically sensitive of sacred cows.
Its tragedies and other follies
By Tibor R. Machan
Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, Stanford University
The “Washington Monument strategy” can operate instead. The name comes from Washington, DC, where the Washington Monument is one of the most popular attractions on the Mall. Threats of budget cuts (or increases less than requested by an agency) can cause an agency such as the National Park Service to react by threatening to shorten hours at the most popular government facility that agency controls—in the case of the Park Service, the George Washington monument.
New York (NY) Times
George Hartzog, Parks Chief, Dies at 88
By DENNIS HEVESI
Published: July 17, 2008
George B. Hartzog Jr., whose political skills as director of the National Park Service in the 1960s and early ’70s led to the addition of nearly 50 million acres to the park system, more than doubling its size, died on June 27 in Arlington, Va. He was 88 and lived in McLean, Va
Mr. Hartzog’s years under the Nixon administration were marked by policy disputes with the president. In 1969, after the administration significantly cut the Park Service budget, Mr. Hartzog closed all park sites, including the Grand Canyon and the Washington Monument, for two days a week. Congress restored the financing.
House GOP Questions Postal Closings
By Daniel Newhauser
Roll Call Staff
July 28, 2011, Midnight
Rep. Dennis Ross, chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service and Labor Policy, said the proposal has a whiff of the “Washington Monument” strategy, an old legislative ploy where an agency threatens to close popular services first, but he said he will leave the business to the experts.
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Thursday, August 18, 2011 • Permalink