Georgia’s Regional Preservation Services System (RPSS) assists communities and individuals involved in historic preservation across the state. Funding is provided by the Historic Preservation Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and by local matching funds. The RPSS was modeled after a similar program in South Carolina. In 1978, its first year, only two regions participated in the program. By the next year ten more regions had joined.
After the passage of the Georgia Planning Act of 1989, regional planners operated from Regional Development Centers (RDCs) to implement comprehensive planning on a local and regional level. These RDCs were planning agencies funded by state and federal grants with dues paid by member cities and counties. Serving their surrounding counties, the sixteen RDCs were located in Americus, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Brunswick, Camilla, Columbus, Dalton, Eastman (with the planner’s office in Baxley), Franklin, Gainesville, Griffin, Macon, Rome, Valdosta, and Waycross. Fifteen regional preservation planners served either full-time or part-time; Griffin was the only center without a planner. Over the years boundaries were changed to make adjustments in regional conditions and local preferences. The regional centers provided assistance to city and county governments in matters related to land use, transportation, historic preservation, natural resources, solid waste, and economic development. In 2009 the RDCs were reorganized into twelve regional commissions.
The state’s unusual regional organizational structure allows preservation programs originating at the federal level (in the Department of the Interior or the National Park Service) to be coordinated at the state office and administered locally by the regional planners. Such a structure ensures regionally appropriate implementation of federal directives for historic preservation (as established by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966) in Georgia’s 159 counties. Through the work of the RPSS, Georgia has led other states in many historic preservation categories, such as the total number of National Register listings and the amount of money invested in rehabilitating historic properties.