The 2024 NRPA Agency Performance Review Report

April 25, 2024, Department, by Melissa May

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Each spring, NRPA releases the NRPA Agency Performance Review, an annual report that summarizes key findings from nearly 1,000 unique park and recreation agencies across the United States on topics varying from facilities to staffing, budgets, programming and policies. The findings within the review are compiled using agency-submitted data contributed to NRPA Park Metrics — a benchmarking resource consisting of a comprehensive survey and a suite of reporting tools available for free to park and recreation professionals and advocates. The combination of insights from this report and NRPA Park Metrics, along with information about a community’s specific needs and experiences, will assist in determining the optimal mix of offerings by local park and recreation agencies.

Throughout the 2024 NRPA Agency Performance Review, data are presented on the “typical” agency, which represents the statistical median of the data. Additional cross-tabulations — including budget size, region, jurisdiction type and more — are available as interactive tables.

Key findings from the 2024 NRPA Agency Performance Review include:

Park Facilities

Residents per park – Typically, there is one park for every 2,386 residents.

Acres of parkland per 1,000 residents – The typical park and recreation agency has 10.6 acres of parkland for every 1,000 residents in the jurisdiction.

Outdoor park and recreation facilities: prevalence and population per facility – An overwhelming majority of park and recreation agencies have playgrounds (93 percent), diamond fields (85 percent) and basketball courts (84 percent) in their portfolio of assets.

Miles of trails – The typical park and recreation agency manages or maintains 16 miles of trails for walking, hiking, running and/or biking.

Indoor park and recreation facilities: prevalence and population per facility – A majority of agencies offer community centers and recreation centers; two in five agencies offer senior centers and performance amphitheaters.


Programming offered by park and recreation agencies – Key programming activities include themed special events, social recreation events, team sports, fitness enhancement classes, and health and wellness education.

Targeted programs for children, older adults and people with disabilities – Eighty-three percent of agencies offer summer camp to their communities’ younger residents.

Responsibilities of Park and Recreation Agencies

Key responsibilities of park and recreation agencies – Top roles include operating and maintaining parks, trails and indoor facilities; providing recreation programming and services; and conducting jurisdiction-wide special events.

Other responsibilities of park and recreation agencies – Operating, maintaining or contracting special purpose parks, pools and racquet sports areas lead the list of other agency responsibilities.


Park and recreation agency staffing – The typical park and recreation agency has a payroll of 57.6 full-time equivalent employees (FTEs).

Park and recreation FTEs per 10,000 residents – The typical park and recreation agency has 8.9 FTEs on staff for each 10,000 residents in the jurisdiction served by the agency.


Annual operating expenditures –The typical park and recreation agency has annual operating expenditures of nearly $6.5 million.

Operating expenditures per capita – The typical agency has annual operating expenses of $99.47 per capita.

Operating expenditures per acre of park and non-park sites – The median level of operating expenditures is $8,260 per acre of park and non-park sites managed by the agency.

Operating expenditures per FTE – The typical park and recreation agency spends nearly $111,000 in annual operating expenditures for each employee.

Next Steps

Dig deeper into the 2024 NRPA Agency Performance Review data using the interactive tools.

Create an NRPA Park Metrics account if you have not done so already.

Find peer agencies in NRPA Park Metrics by filtering the data by agency type, size, budget, geographic region and more.

Enhance your NRPA Park Metrics experience even further by entering your agency’s data to compare it with the key metrics of agencies throughout the United States.

The 2024 NRPA Agency Performance Review does not represent park and recreation “standards,” nor do the benchmarks denote any requirements by which every individual park and recreation agency should measure itself. The reason for this is simple: There is not one single set of standards for parks and recreation because no two park and recreation agencies are the same.

Thank You

The NRPA Research team would like to acknowledge all those who made this report possible through their continued sharing of data and time. Your contributions advance the field and are incredibly appreciated. To learn how to be a part of next year’s report, please contact Melissa May at

Melissa May is NRPA’s Senior Research Manager