GAO Review and Comment on the Federal Government's Involvement in the Construction of the Robert F. Kennedy Gravesite

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1971-04-15.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                              WASHIHGTON.   D.C.   20948

   Dear Senator Griffin:
          This is in response to your letter of March 22, 1971, enclosing
   a letter to you frown Mrs. Richard M. Upright dated March 10, 1.971, and
   requesting that we review and comment on the Federal      Govemme&*s
                                                              -i, ,..._.
   involvement in the construction___.:of the Bqbe~~~-.~~~~dy~&n"~vesite.
        --The.-~~~e'-Se,ta-'~obert Fe Kem&Jy ii*-ittprred in &liwton  p ./qch
   National Cemetery on June 8, 1968, in a portion of the 3.2 acres which
   had been set aside in memory of his brother, President John F. Kennedy.
   No additional    land has been allocated.
          In Public Law 91-144, dated December ll, l&y, Congress appropri-
   ated $15,125,000 for cemeterial expenses, According to the report of
   the House Committee on Appropriations,    this mount included $181,0o0 $3~~
   for the Fedeml portion of the cost of design and construction      of a
   permanent resting place for the late Senator Robert Kennedy in
   Arlington National Cemetery. The report also stated that this allow-
   ance restricted    the Government's share of the cost solely to the visitor
   access approach walks, exit stairway, related l~~drscaping, relocations,
   and related design cost, and that cost of all work in the immediate are8
   of the grave, estimated at $496,000, would be paid by the Kennedy family.
   Currently,    the total esti   ed cost is $7479000, of which, after allowing
   for the Government's share of $181.,000, the Kennedy family's portion
   is $566,000.
          A spokesman for the Department of the Amy, in requesting this
   appropriation   in May lg9, advised the Public Works Subcommittee of the
(YHouse Committee on Appropriations    that over 5 million people had visited //y/o
   Arlington Rational Cemetery during a period of a year and that most of
   them had visited the Kennedy gravesites.    Ne also stated that if a person
   visits the John F. Kennedy graves it is almost a folregone conclusion
   that he will also visit the Robert F. Kennedy grave, primarily    due to the
   proximity of the two.
         A publication of the Office of the Chief of Support Services,
   Department of the Army, dated November 1970, regarding the Kennedy graves
   in Arlington National Cemetery, states in part:
            “In   the years     since   the President    ad      Senator     were
      interred,   millions of persons from all over the world
      have visited the graves annually.       Just as the Government
      decided to provide access facilities       to accommodate those
      coming to honor the President, the Army determined that it
      would be appropriate   to pay from public f'unds the expenses
      related to the flow of visitors      to the Senator’s  grave.
      The improvements sre essential     if responsible officials
      are to control the crowds during peak-season attendance at
      Arlington and to insure that cemetery grounds ase not

             "Plans for the poiert     Kerrnew grave are that it will
      be marked by a simple white wooden cross and will be sur-
      rounded by a cluster of informally       planted trees.    A
      granite approach-walk till       lead south from the President's
      grave to a semicircular      platform and reflecting    pool. A low
      granite wall inscribed with quotations from the Senator will
      be along the back of the pool. The grave will be landscaped
      as a natursl addition to the Cu.&is-Lee h5ll ad the President's
       site,     There will be a dense planting of trees between the two
      graves, a grove in the &mediate   mea, and a la;Pge American
      Beech adjacent  to the paved area to provide shelter and shade."
      Army regulations        state that persons who have been honorably dis-
charged fior&‘%ailitary       service    and who have also       held    elective   office
in the United States    Governmen-bor served in the Cabinet are among
those eligible    for burial in Arlington National Cemetery. Senator
Kennedy was eligible    for interment in Arlington National Cemetery under
the above eligibility     criteria by virtue of sertice in the United States
Navy during World War II as well as in the United States Senate and in
the Cabinet as Attorney General.

      We hope th,at this       information    will   satisfy     the purpose of your
                                                     Sincerely      yours,

                                        AeeiPrterat Comptroller         General -
                                                     of the United        States

The Honorable Robert P. Griffin
United States Senate