Park Service chief under fire for unapproved book

The head of the National Park Service (NPS) is under fire for writing a book about the agency without approval from ethics officials.

NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis wrote a book celebrating national parks and tying them to common American values and had it published in June 2015, according to a report released late Thursday by the inspector general for the Interior Department, of which the NPS is a part.

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Although Jarvis’s book, “Guidebook to American Values and Our National Parks,” was entirely positive toward the agency and he made no money writing it, he should have followed proper protocol in clearing the project with Interior’s ethics office, investigators said.

The book was published by Eastern National, a private company that does tours at national parks, runs park bookstores and publishes books about the parks.

“We focused our investigation 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,” the investigators wrote. “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.”

Investigators said Jarvis’ activity may have violated laws or regulations on using one’s public office for personal gain, using government resources for personal reasons, being too closely involved with a company that has business with NPS and not seeking ethics advice when it was necessary.

Jarvis asked the publisher to donate any royalties he would get to the National Parks Foundation, which could create another ethical problem, the investigation found.

Jarvis admitted to most of the allegations the inspector general made and said he regretted how he handled the book deal.

He told investigators that he had been frustrated previously that the ethics office took a long time to approve requests. But he did notify Interior Secretary Sally JewellSally JewellInterior chief reprimands employees on ethics, sexual harassment A way out of Alaska's fiscal hole Obama to take victory lap on conservation MORE that he was working on the book.

“I regret that I did not seek guidance on the most appropriate path forward to publish this book,” Jarvis said in a statement

“I wrote the book to inspire and engage more Americans in our national parks, particularly 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.”

The inspector general sent the matter to Michael Conner, deputy secretary of the interior, for his consideration.