Buried deep in the backup papers for the National Park Service budget, sent to Congress yesterday, is an obscure item that reads:
"President's Park . . . Renovate utility system in executive residence, $786,000."
Translated from bureaucratese, the item means that the White House is going to get a costly rewiring job, and it will be charged off a national park project, just like a $7,000 comfort station planned for Anacostia Park in southeast Washington.
The proposal reflects the government's unique way of keeping its books.
Although the White House grounds are fenced in against intruders, they are considered to be a park - the President's Park - according to George Berklacy of National Capital Parks.
And, although the White House is both the presidential home (the "executive residence") and an office building for a large staff, the structure is maintained as a national monument under Park Service jurisdiction.
Berklacy said the existing wiring is 27 years old and does not meet current standards, and cannot adequately provide power for television broadcasts. A total rewiring of the building will cost more than $2 million over a period of several years, he said. About $350,000 is being spent this year.