The National Park Service's construction budget would gain a modest increase in fiscal 2004 under a spending bill that has received final congressional approval. The Interior Dept. appropriations measure, which the Senate passed Nov. 3 and the House approved Oct. 30, provides $334 million for Park Service construction, up 3% from 2003. The bill also raises the park maintenance account 9%, to $567 million.

Among the larger items in the construction account are: $15 million for a security barrier at the Washington Monument; $13 million for a water system at Everglades National Park; and $13 million for Elwha River restoration at Olympic National Park in Washington state; and $7 million for rehabilitation at Acadia National Park in Maine.

Appropriators also turned down President Bush's proposed $24-million cut in the U.S. Geological Survey budget, and instead allotted $950 million for USGS, a 3% increase over the 2003 level.

The Interior measure is the fourth of the 13 fiscal 2004 appropriations bills to win congressional approval. It now goes to President Bush for his signature.

The lawmakers also weighed in on the Bush administration's "competitive sourcing" program, which envisions putting the work done by tens of thousands of federal workers up for competition. The Interior bill says that contracting out the department's agencies plan must save at least 10% or $10 million compared with what it costs to have the work done by the federal workers.