Governments really just aren't good at maintenance

We're told that the estate of the US national park system is just rotting away. Not enough money you see:

At Zion national park, a popular trail has been closed since 2010. At the Grand Canyon, a rusting pipeline that supplies drinking water to the busiest part of the park breaks at least a half-dozen times a year. At Voyageurs, a historic cabin collapsed.

The National Park Service is the protector of some of America’s greatest environmental and cultural treasures. Yet a huge funding shortfall means that the strain of America’s passion for its parks is showing. Trails are crumbling and buildings are rotting. In all there is an $11bn backlog of maintenance work that repair crews have been unable to perform, a number that has mostly increased every year in the past decade.

“Americans should be deeply concerned,” said John Garder, senior director of budget and appropriations at the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA). The National Park Service, he argued, is hamstrung by a lack of resources and is in “triage mode”.

There's a long time internet friend of ours who runs a company in exactly this field. Taking on contracts from those governmental peeps to run the facilities at such parks:

On several occasions, I have wondered why progressives continue to be so supportive of paying too many government workers too much at the cost of reducing the government services they seem so passionate about.  This is something I seen in the public parks world all the time.  Arizona State Parks, for example, has about half of its employees in headquarters buildings rather out in the field serving the public while at the same time paying these headquarters staff very high salaries.  This is despite the fact that the agency has tens of millions of dollars of deferred maintenance it refuses to address.

I see this story repeated over and over in the public parks world -- when forced to choose, government agencies will cut back on maintenance and services to protect total staffing numbers, pay, and benefits.

This is something of a corollary to Parkinson's Law (s) about bureaucracy. Politicians are never interested in maintenance because no one does get to cut a red ribbon every time the Forth Bridge is repainted. And a bureaucracy isn't interested as above, the concern of that organisation is the survival and pay of the organisation itself, nothing more.

The truth being just that the long term provision of goods and services, the maintenance necessary to make that happen, isn't a process well dealt with by government. There is a reason why the Eastern Block, entirely government run, looked so shabby and it wasn't just the poverty which a planned economy produces.

It's also why all PFI contracts have the maintenance costs written into them, so that they cannot be cut to suit the political wind.