You are here

NPS Official Investigated For Padding His Travel Expenses Lands New Position


A senior National Park Service official investigated for padding his travel expenses by nearly $18,000 reportedly has been transferred to a position overseeing the agency's Park Planning, Facilities and Lands Division, a move that drew quick criticism from union representatives.

Mike Caldwell had been director of the agency's Northeast Region office. Last December an Office of Inspector General report stated that between 2011 and 2015 Mr. Caldwell rented bigger vehicles than he should have to bring friends on some of his travels, covered lodging costs of personal guests, was reimbursed for mileage "that he never drove," rented an SUV for "an official trip two days before his official business was scheduled to start," and also "spent a day driving the SUV 450 miles out of the way for unofficial purposes."

According to an Interior Department document obtained by the American Federation of Government Employees, on June 5 Mr. Caldwell is to take over as chief of staff of the park planning division, a position that has him responsible for coordinating "on key managerial initiatives/projects."

A document passed on to the American Federation of Government Employees states that Mike Caldwell, who was investigated for travel fraud during his role as Northeast Regional Director of the National Park Service, has been moved to another role with the agency.

The move was harshly criticized Monday by Adam Duncan, secretary treasurer of the American Federation of Government Employees, Council 270, who represents Park Service employees in the Northeast Region.

"In this position, Mr. Caldwell will presumably have direct influence on high-level decision making and will still travel. Every NPS employee I talk to is outraged on this decision that seems to be very little discipline and disproportionate to what other lower graded employees receive for far less infractions. I myself am representing an employee who is facing disciplinary action over giving out bottles of water to other staff members," Mr. Duncan said in an email to the Traveler

"The National Park Service has a long history of shuffling around high-ranking officials who have been subject to major disciplinary action while lower subordinates face much harsher disciplinary actions for much less severe actions," he added. "It is reprehensible that high-ranking officials are moved to other positions where they can continue to mess up all while NPS morale suffers. Employees want honest, accountable leadership. Unfortunately, those leaders are very few and far between in the NPS."

According to the OIG report, Mr. Caldwell, desiring "nicer" experiences on his travels as regional director, ran up nearly $11,500 in personal travel that he billed the Park Service for, and also collected nearly $6,000 in pay and per diem on some of these travels while not working.

"Caldwell admitted during his interviews that he had taken these trips and that he had knowingly violated federal travel regulations," the report released in December stated. "He said that in doing so he had taken advantage of his official positions, first as a GS-15 deputy regional director and then as a member of the Senior Executive Service. He said he deserved, at minimum, a suspension."

The case report didn't indicate whether Mr. Caldwell made restitution. But in the seven-page report he was very forthcoming in admitting to the allegations made against him, stating that his travel vouchers had been "tainted and fraudulent.”

National Park Service officials in Washington were preparing a comment Monday.

Please Support Independent National Park Journalism

Use the links below to make your donation to National Parks Traveler via PayPal, or send your check to National Parks Traveler, P.O. Box 980452, Park City, Utah, 84098. The Traveler is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit media organization. For U.S. residents, 100 percent of your contributions may be eligible for a tax deduction in accordance with applicable law. 


His boss, Zinke, was the one criticized for padding his travel expenditures in the DOD so he is apparently a chip off the old block.  This cabal has found an open wallet for themselves and their land rapist friends in the NPS

Whether military, private sector, federal agency ----- fraud and theft cannot be rewarded like this.

Drain the swamp?

What swamp?

We don't see any swamp.

Sincerely yours,

Those In Power

A member of NPS Management admits to submitting "Tainted and fraudulent" travel vouchers but continues to be promoted.  Lower-level employees who are management's disfavor risk losing their careers for frivolous infractions.  No, Stephen Mather, the National Park Service has not become just another government agency.  It now ranks near the bottom of federal agencies in employee morale, and this disparity of discipline is just one reason why.

It's ever more apparent that the Swamp won't drain itself and a swamp it is.  It wouldn't even be considered if Hillary had been elected.

Drain the swamp.

She wasn't elected. Find a new whipping boy.


Your plan for bringing this type of BS to an end?  Sending more funding to NPS?  I mean what's the plan, Rick?  A lot of NPS down the ranks would like to know?


TA - who put you in charge? It ain't my job to come up with a plan to cure bad breath in dogs, world hunger, or satisfying a bunch of NPSers down the line. Most of whom that I've spoken with are keeping their heads down until we get a regime change to sanity.


By the way - I'm still waiting for Jimmy Carter to balance the federal budget by 1980 as he had promised, but I'm not obsessing on it If you guys keep on using Hillary as the boogiie man, you're going to be pretty unhappy.

Add comment


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide