GAO probe finished in Gettysburg; report due by next March

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Federal investigators from the Government Accountability Office have concluded their probe of fundraising at Gettysburg National Military Park, but the agency is still reviewing other National Parks around the country.

The GAO, based in Washington D.C. and governed by Congress, intends to release a report detailing its study – on the National Park Service's acceptance of donations – by March 2009.

"Gettysburg was just one of the many sites that we're visiting over the course of our review, and it was the first site that we visited," said GAO lead investigator Robin Nazzaro. "We really can't talk about our findings at this point. It's preliminary until we see all of the sites."

GAO investigators visited the battlefield in December, and spoke with Park Supt. Dr. John A. Latschar, and Gettysburg Foundation leaders. The agency returned a month later and chatted with local community groups, such as battlefield guides and park critics.

"I can tell you for sure, because the GAO told me, that there will not be a separate report on Gettysburg," Dr. Latschar said during a previous interview. "That rumor has been out there, and from what I hear, it's not true. Gettysburg is part of a larger nationwide study."

The GAO is probing whether fundraising for the new $105 million GNMP Visitor Center and Museum is compliant with federal standards. GNMP has teamed with the non-profit Gettysburg Foundation to raise funds for the project, and the partnership has secured more than $100 million. But two-thirds of that figure has come via state and local taxpayers: $20 million from Harrisburg, and $16 million from Congress to finance the Cyclorama restoration.

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