National Park Service
US Department of the Interior
National Park Service
Interpretive Development Program

Business Acumen


Understands the organization's financial processes.  Prepares, justifies, and administers the program budget. Oversees procurement and contracting to achieve desired results. Monitors expenditures and uses cost-benefit thinking to set priorities.



The government employee is the custodian of the citizenry’s funds. Prudent financial management (which includes the ability to manage, prioritize, deploy, and leverage capital) is essential to the effective operation of the organization, is integral to successful procurement and contracting, and is mandatory to maintain public confidence in the work of government. Within government service, financial management includes being innovative and creative in the development and use of financial resources as well as being efficient and effective in the management, application, use and monitoring of these resources. It includes the ability to borrow appropriate best practices from the private sector, while understanding and respecting the inherent differences between a commercial enterprise and the work of government.


How do Chiefs of Interpretation Demonstrate this Competency?

  • Demonstrates financial management skills.
  • Analyzes the present and future needs of the interpretive operation in the context of park and mission goals.
  • Effectively plans to meet needs by considering all appropriate resources and inputs to the operation.
  • Uses both internal and external financial processes to successfully procure the resources needed for the operation.
  • Demonstrates accountability for federal and private funds.


Elements of the Competency, KSABs, and Outcomes


Knowledge, Skill, Ability, or Behavior


Value and use cost-effective approaches to accomplish work.  Know and comply with procurement and contracting rules and regulations.

Fosters organizational approach to maximizing resources.  (Park Management)

  • S - Ability to link expenditures to management goals.

  • S - Identifies and defends resource and investment needs for unit in line with overall understanding of organizational goals.

  • A - Is able to negotiate and willing to share resources to maximize the services of the agency.

  • A - Maximizes the potential of all resources.

  • B - Transforms visionary goals and strategic plans into practical, accurate, sustainable budgets.


Know and comply with procurement and contracting rules and regulations.  (Procedural)

  • A - Assures appropriate oversight and control over procurement.

  • Effective negotiation.

  • Strategic Influence and collaboration.

  • Efficient procurement and use of AFSIII.

  • Links what interpretation does and spends to organizational goals.

  • Communicates successes with RO and WASO.

  • Park Program management scenarios that include Interpretation/PIO components.

  • Appropriate use of procurement and contracting rules and regulations, used with comfort even when learned through on the job training.

  • Effective use of SOWs, IDEAS, and Government estimates.

  • Effective obligation of money enhances ability to secure subsequent project funding.


Understands the Federal budget process, the forms of funding available, and the Federal context in which the agency’s “business” is conducted.


Understands the non-profit budget process including timelines and issues.


Understands the Federal budget process, the forms of funding available, and the Federal context in which the agency’s business is conducted.  (Budget Process)

  • K - Understands where the business of government and enterprise business intersect, and where they are distinct from one another.


Prepares and justifies a budget that meets program needs.  (Implementation)

  • K -Understands how programs fit into overall mission of the agency and makes budget consolidation decisions and can justify program budgets based on this understanding.

  • S - Is alert to opportunities to procure and develop resources.


Understands and communicates about the non-profit budget process as it relates to non-profit education partners, including timelines and issues.

  • Effectively “plays the game” and effectual at using all available funding sources.

  • Effective use of SCC, funding sources, ONPS, Contracting, agreements, grants, and uses of donations.

  • Effective obligation of money enhances ability to secure subsequent project funding.

Prepare and justify a budget that meets program needs.

Ability to develop an annual business plan for the unit which links strategic outcomes with budgets and key operational metrics. (Planning)

  • B -Employs a budget system which allows a dynamic view of operations and incorporates actual data and planned changes into the system.

  • K - Knowledge of how to prepare and justify budget for program area.

  • S - Makes budget needs clear and presents compelling evidence supporting cost estimates for meeting strategic objectives.

  • S - Reallocates resources throughout the organization as necessary to enhance program impact.

  • A - Plans the distribution of limited resources to meet established organizational and unit objectives.

  • A - Controls, allocates and prioritizes funding for programs and organizational units, and communicates clearly the reasoning/rationale behind decisions.



  • Excellence in developing a business plan.

  • Excellence in preparing a budget

  • Applies benefits of guidance and mentoring acquired through a “blended learning” approach. 

Know and understand the implications of the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) and the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART).

Carries out impact assessment of programs to ensure that they remain relevant, appropriate and effective.  (Evaluation)

  • A - Develops information systems necessary to support ongoing review and evaluation.

  • A - Develops and implements systems that are sufficient to judge value and evaluate performance.

  • B - Sets clear expectations and requirements for all,

  • providing input into the budget process to include: what information is needed, in what format, by when, and who is responsible.

  • Comfort with use of GPRA as a strategic tool. 

  • Comfort with Evaluation and ready access to evaluation tools

  • And techniques.

  • Excellence in use and application of GPRA, SIR, Standards Assessment Tool, and Score Card.

  • Regularly evaluates the effectiveness of funds spent.

  • Adroit ability to shift money to advance and support the park Interp. Program.

  • Effective reconciliation of budgets and adapting budgets to needs.


Use cost-benefit analysis to set priorities and make decisions on resource allocation.

Uses cost-benefit analysis to set priorities and make decisions on resource allocation.  (Oversight)

  • A -Ensures proper accounting, auditing and oversight is in place.  Monitors, reviews and tracks expenditures.

  • A - Links budget expenditures to identified critical success factors.

  • A - Manages value for cost while working within a constrained financial regime.

  • A - Prioritizes projects to maximize the effective use of limited resources.

  • B - Creates budgets which maximize the utilization of

  • resources in line with organizational goals.

  • B - Demonstrates skill in reconciling conflicting needs

  • and wants.

  • Successful employment of cost-benefit analysis. 

  • Excellence in procurement and AFSIII.

  • Bold risk taking.