National Park Service:

Concession Reform Issues

T-RCED-98-122: Published: Mar 12, 1998. Publicly Released: Mar 12, 1998.

Additional Materials:


Victor S. Rezendes
(202) 512-6082


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

GAO discussed the need for concessions reform in the National Park Service as well as in other land management agencies, focusing on a comparison of the Park Service's concessions programs with those of other federal agencies.

GAO noted that: (1) concession activities on federal lands is a large industry that generates billions of dollars; (2) GAO's most recent work showed that over 11,000 concession agreements were managed by civilian agencies throughout the federal government; (3) concessioners operating under these agreements generated about $2.2 billion in gross revenues; (4) over 90 percent of concession agreements and the concession gross revenues were from concessioners in the six land management agencies--with many of the largest concessioners operating in the Park Service; (5) for agreements that were either initiated or extended during fiscal year 1994, concessioners in all of the land management agencies paid the government an average of about 3 percent of their gross revenues; (6) in the case of the Park Service, the average return was about 3.5 percent; (7) in contrast, concessioners in nonland management agencies paid fees of about 9 percent of their gross revenues; (8) the key factors affecting rate of return to the government were: (a) whether the fee was established through competition; (b) whether the agency was permitted to retain most of the concessions fees it generated; and (c) whether an incumbent concessioner had a preferential right in renewing its concession agreement with the government; (9) throughout the federal government, rates of return from concessioners were higher when established through competition; (10) in addition, agencies which had authority to retain fees and which did not grant preferential rights of renewal generally obtained higher rates of return to the government from concessioners; (11) in previous reports, GAO noted that as Congress considers reforming concessions in the Park Service, it may want to consider: (a) encouraging greater competition by eliminating preferential rights of renewal; and (b) providing opportunities for the Park Service to retain at least a portion of concession fees; (12) in addition, some concession reform proposals have suggested removing possessory interest--the concessioners right to be compensated for facilities constructed or acquired on federal lands; and (13) at issue are the long-term costs of acquiring concessioner-owned facilities relative to the benefits realized by having greater control through government ownership of facilities.

Sep 23, 2020

Aug 6, 2020

Aug 5, 2020

Jul 23, 2020

Jul 14, 2020

Jun 25, 2020

May 29, 2020

May 5, 2020

Looking for more? Browse all our products here