Federal Lands:

Improvements Needed in Managing Concessioners

RCED-91-163: Published: Jun 11, 1991. Publicly Released: Jun 11, 1991.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

James Duffus, III
(202) 512-7756
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the: (1) laws and policies governing recreation concession operations on federal lands; (2) total number and types of concession agreements; (3) total return to the government from concession operations; and (4) federal recreation resources management practices of the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, Forest Service, and Army Corps of Engineers.

GAO found that: (1) no single law authorizing concession operations existed; (2) none of the agencies maintained a complete database identifying the number and types of concession agreements; (3) the agencies could not determine total compensation to the federal government for the use of federal recreational resources, due to incomplete financial data and unreported nonfee considerations; (4) the agencies identified 11 different laws governing concession agreements and operations, many of which were agency-specific and allowed for broad discretion in establishing policies; (5) complete financial data were available for only 60 percent of over 9,000 concession agreements reported by the agencies; (6) some agencies permitted field offices to accept such nonfee compensation as capital improvements from concessioners, but the offices generally did not report such agreements to headquarters; (7) from those concessioners who reported complete financial data in 1989, the federal government received about $35 million in concession fees, with gross concession revenues of about $1.4 million, representing an average return to the government of about 2 percent; and (8) various fee approaches by the six agencies resulted in concessioners paying different fees to operate similar activities.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Corps of Engineers is in the process of implementing a real estate management system with the capacity to centralize concessioner data. All information from the districts is not yet on the system. As leases are renewed, lease information will be put on system. However, since completion dates have not been established, GAO will no longer pursue this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture, and Defense should require the heads of the six agencies with the greatest amounts of recreation lands to develop and maintain centralized concessioner data that include: (1) the type of the agreement; (2) the length of the agreement; (3) its expiration date; (4) the services provided; (5) gross receipts; (6) fees paid to the government; and (7) the value of nonfee compensation. Once the agencies collect this information, they should develop and present to Congress a policy to achieve greater consistency in the management of concession operations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A Park Service working group reviewing concession data forwarded its recommendation to NPS management. NPS management is expected to act on them this fall. However, as the Park Service has not established any completion dates, GAO will no longer pursue this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture, and Defense should require the heads of the six agencies with the greatest amounts of recreation lands to develop and maintain centralized concessioner data that include: (1) the type of the agreement; (2) the length of the agreement; (3) its expiration date; (4) the services provided; (5) gross receipts; (6) fees paid to the government; and (7) the value of nonfee compensation. Once the agencies collect this information, they should develop and present to Congress a policy to achieve greater consistency in the management of concession operations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Information is available at the regional level but not yet at headquarters. The Forest Service is in the process of implementing a database that will contain much data including information on licensees and fees. However, as dates for completion of the system have continually slipped, GAO will no longer pursue the progress of this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture, and Defense should require the heads of the six agencies with the greatest amounts of recreation lands to develop and maintain centralized concessioner data that include: (1) the type of the agreement; (2) the length of the agreement; (3) its expiration date; (4) the services provided; (5) gross receipts; (6) fees paid to the government; and (7) the value of nonfee compensation. Once the agencies collect this information, they should develop and present to Congress a policy to achieve greater consistency in the management of concession operations.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Oct 16, 2014

Oct 14, 2014

Sep 23, 2014

Sep 22, 2014

Sep 19, 2014

Sep 15, 2014

Sep 12, 2014

Sep 9, 2014

Aug 11, 2014

Jul 28, 2014

Looking for more? Browse all our products here