The General Accounting Office report on the Kennedy Center's finances announced this week came as no surprise to any of the parties involved.
The GAO found that the Center has "no reasonable prospects" of being able to pay back to the Treasury Department either $15 million in deferred interest owed on government bonds or the $2 million annual compound interest accrued since 1978.
"We couldn't agree more," said Roger Stevens, chairman of the Kennedy Center, who has repeatedly stated as much about the Center.
On the Hill, a spokesman in the office of Rep. Sidney Yates (D-Ill.) said that Yates "was sorry the report didn't say anything we didn't already know." Yates chairs the House committee that oversees the National Park Service, the agency responsible for some of the maintenance costs at the Kennedy Center.
The GAO report -- submitted to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and the House Committee on Public Works and Transportation -- recommends that the Center look into the possibility of "increasing the utilization of the garage and increasing parking revenues" as a way to make more money.
The report also says the cost-sharing formula between the Center and the Park Service for maintenance "does not accurately reflect the current use of the building for performing arts and memorial purposes."
The Kennedy Center opposes increasing its share of costs -- as the report duly notes -- arguing that increased performing arts use of the Center increases the maintenance costs. Therefore, the Center argues, it is penalized for simply carrying out its responsibility.
The GAO didn't see it that way. The report recommends a change in the formula by which the Center and the Park Service share the costs of operation of mechanical and electrical systems, utilities, maintenance, repair and janitorial services. The Center now pays 23.8 percent of those shared costs. The report recommends they pay all of the costs. The Park Service would continue to pay for normal security, information and grounds service.
In another part of the report, the GAO compares the Kennedy Center with theater centers in other cities. The report notes that all of the centers provide specially priced tickets to certain groups of people but that the Kennedy Center's program, "which reportedly included 115,000 discount tickets in 1979 . . . is unique in the larger number of eligible low-income groups and in providing a 30-percent discount on 15 percent of the tickets to most attractions."