Grants grade scientists spend most of their time supervising and administering the research of others. These employees also have a separate evaluation procedure. The grants grade currently includes the regional chief scientists, some cooperative park study unit leaders, and one park scientist. These positions correspond to department chairs and administrative officers at a university.
Although many researchers and park managers acknowledge the benefits of the special evaluation system, it is not without problems. Current lines of authority in the NPS often put research scientists between two masters. On one hand, they must conduct their science in a way professional enough to succeed under the research grade evaluation. On the other, they must succeed in the eyes of their superintendents, who are necessarily focused on immediate management problems. The research grade evaluation sets standards that require attaining national and, at the highest level, international reputations. Yet conversations with NPS staff in numerous forums indicate that internal pressures born of their ties to management lead them to stay in the parks and forgo participation in national and international professional meetings and other normal activities of science. Superintendents and park staff sometimes see the emphasis on publishing as decreasing a scientist's contributions to solving park problems. This puts the scientist in the position of working primarily on short-term applied problems but being expected to produce longer term, more basic research products to achieve promotion. NPS scientists who try to balance these demands often end up doing management-focused, applied science and thus they have difficulty attaining the upper levels of the research grade. Too often, scientists seem to spend more time trying to deal with the system than they spend in the productive pursuit of stated research goals. This has encouraged some good personnel to leave the NPS for other agencies and organizations more conducive to science.
The formulation of the NPS budget is a complex process that involves interactions among park superintendents, re-