Award of a 10-Year Concession Contract by National Park Service

B-194280: Published: Jun 18, 1980. Publicly Released: Jun 18, 1980.

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A firm asked whether a 10-year concession contract issued by the National Park Service for the boat service concession at Fort Sumter National Monument was improperly awarded. The firm contended that the awardee's terms included higher rates to the public and a lower franchise fee to the Government than proposed by the firm. The record showed that the awardee was the incumbent concessioner. Also, notice of the intention to negotiate the new contract advised that preference was to be given to the awardee in view of the awardee's satisfactory performance as the incumbent contractor. Offers from firms that were interested in the contract were to be submitted within 30 days of the notice's publication. Further, the Fact Sheet published in conjunction with the notice prescribed the rates to be charged the public, and it stated that any alternative rate schedules submitted by offerers would not be considered in the proposal's evaluations due to the fact that such rates are necessarily subject to change during the term of the contract. Thus, the prime evaluation factors would be managerial competence and financial ability. GAO held that there is no suggestion in legislative history that a contract should not be renewed with a concessioner whose performance has been satisfactory simply because another firm offered to perform the service on better financial terms. To the contrary, previous legislation clearly establishes the importance of the continuity of operations and operators in awarding concession contracts. In this case, the protester's proposal was evaluated, and its proposed rates to the public and franchise fee were noted. However, consistent with the terms of the Fact Sheet it was determined that these factors did not override the preference established in the statute to continue contracting with the awardee. Thus, GAO could not say that there was an abuse of discretion.

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