Park Service:

Need to Address Key Management Problems That Plague the Concessions Program

T-RCED-00-136: Published: Jun 15, 2000. Publicly Released: Jun 15, 2000.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the National Park Service's (NPS) concessions program, focusing on program management problems and options available to address them.

GAO noted that: (1) shortcomings in the agency's overall approach to managing the concessions program center on three areas: (a) the inadequate qualifications and training of the agency's concessions specialists and concessions contracting staff; (b) the agency's out-of-date practices in handling its contracting workload as well as its chronic backlog of expired contracts; and (c) a lack of accountability within the concessions program; (2) for the most part, these problems are long-standing and are consistent with similar concerns raised by the Department of the Interior, its Office of the Inspector General, and NPS concessions staff; (3) NPS has two principal options available for dealing with the problems identified in the management of the concessions program: (a) using better hiring and training practices to professionalize the workforce and thus obtain better business and contracting expertise; or (b) contracting for the needed business and contracting expertise; (4) these two options are not mutually exclusive in that the agency could contract for expertise in certain functions while developing the expertise in-house for other functions; (5) no matter which option--or combination of options--it selects, the agency needs to strengthen its accountability for and control of the program; and (6) unless this is done, the effectiveness of other changes to the program will likely be diminished.

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