Appeals Process

The appeal process is available only for projects that have been denied certification of significance or of rehabilitation for purposes of historic preservation tax incentives.


A view of the entrance to a Beaux-Arts style high-rise. A row of rehabilitated shotgun houses.

How do I make an appeal?

An owner wishing to appeal a denial of certification must register the appeal in writing to the Chief Appeals Officer, Cultural Resources, within 30 days of receipt of the denial decision. Directions for sending this letter are provided in the notice of denial.

Upon receipt of the request for an appeal, the request will be assigned to a coordinator who will schedule a meeting with the Chief Appeals Officer and be available to answer questions. Meetings can take place at the offices of the National Park Service in Washington D.C. or be held by teleconference. At the meeting, applicants may present additional information relevant to the denial issues and discuss why they believe the denial decision should be overturned. It is important to address every problematic issue described in the denial letter.

Appeals are administrative reviews, not adjudicative proceedings. Appeal decisions, like all other certification decisions, are based on relevant Secretary of the Interior's Standards: the Standards for Evaluating Significance within Registered Historic Districts for evaluating certifications of significance and the Standards for Rehabilitation for evaluating rehabilitation projects, found at 36 CFR Part 67.

The result of an appeal will be one of three decisions: the denial may be overturned, it may be upheld, or the Chief Appeals Officer may uphold the denial while identifying remedial work that would bring the project into compliance with the Standards. Decisions by the Chief Appeals Officer are the final administrative decisions within the Department of the Interior regarding certification for the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program.

The Chief Appeals Officer reviews only a very small number of all National Park Service certification decisions. Usually less than 5 applications for certification of significance (Part 1) and only 20–25 certifications of rehabilitation (Parts 2 and 3) are denied each year out of approximately 1,000–1,300 projects submitted for review. Denials of rehabilitation reviewed on appeal are generally atypical re-use projects or rehabilitations that were completed before a Description of Rehabilitation (Part 2 application) was submitted for review. Therefore, these projects are not representative of all certification decisions.

Appeal decisions are project-specific and are not applicable beyond the facts and circumstances of each case. Additionally, appeal decisions do not make policy for the tax incentives program, either on questions of historic significance or on questions about rehabilitation treatments. NPS regulations clearly state, “Because the circumstances of each rehabilitation project are unique to the particular certified historic structure involved, certifications that may have been granted to other rehabilitations are not specifically applicable and may not be relied on by owners as applicable to other projects.”

For guidance in applying the Secretary of the Interior's Standards, see Interpreting the Standards Bulletins and Rehabilitation Standards and Guidelines.

Past Appeals