Federal Lands:

Views on Reform of Recreation Concessioners

T-RCED-95-250: Published: Jul 25, 1995. Publicly Released: Jul 25, 1995.

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GAO discussed federal policies and practices for managing recreation concessioners and proposed legislation to reform those policies and practices. GAO noted that: (1) agency concessions policies and practices vary widely because they are based on at least 11 different laws; (2) many of the laws are agency specific and give the agency broad discretion in establishing concession terms, conditions, and associated fees; (3) 3 agencies grant a preferential right to contract renewal to most of their concessioners, while the other 3 agencies do not grant preferential rights to any concessioner; (4) concession contracts should be opened to more competition, since concession fees yield on average a return of 2.4 percent of gross concession revenues; (5) the National Park Service receives some noncash compensation, such as concessioners' improvements to or maintenance of Park Service facilities; (6) the Forest Service does not currently receive fair market value from ski operators; (7) the proposed legislation is consistent with past GAO findings and would establish common concessions policies on such issues as possessory interest; (8) extinguishing possessory interest could reduce concessions fees and increase the Park Service's maintenance burden; (9) 3 of the proposed bills increase competition, limit the preferential right of renewal, improve government returns, and allow the agencies to retain the fees; and (10) one bill would establish an new simpler fee system for ski areas on Forest Service lands, but it does not require the fees to reflect fair market value.

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