Month: March 2013

Using Private Operators To Short-Circuit the Sequester

Derrick Crandall has an article recently on ways the NPS can survive the sequester.  Here is a key bit:

Second, there are roles and functions that could and should be reviewed and could be transferable to private sector operations.  For example, NPS directly operates most of its campgrounds while a sister federal agency, the Forest Service, relies largely on concessioners.  NPS campgrounds are now underutilized, full only during peak seasons and some weekends.  Concessioner operation would add camper services, introduce dynamic pricing and start marketing these campgrounds.  NPS costs would drop by millions of dollars, its receipts from franchise fees would rise … and campers would have increased satisfaction levels.  Estimated net financial gain from this change is at least $25 million.

The other related advantage of private operation, particularly in a concession model where companies are paid with visitor fees, is that these fees are protected from legislative sweeps and government closures.  By contract, the user fees in concession contracts remain in the park, supporting operations and improvements.