The National Park Service recently issued a prospectus for the sale of visitor convenience items at 58 NPS units located throughout the Southeast Region. Visitor convenience items include such items as first-aid products, sunscreen, pre-packaged snacks and bottled water. The selected contractor must have a current Cooperating Association Agreement with NPS, which is only issued to non-profit entities with a stated purpose of providing support and assistance to NPS’ interpretive, educational and research activities by providing interpretive and educational materials to the visiting public. NPS, however, did not state why it was limiting competition for the contract to only qualified non-profit entities.
Because Cooperating Association Agreements do not authorize the sale of visitor convenience items, NPS is issuing a concession contract to provide that authority. The current concessioner providing the services at issue is Eastern National. Under the terms of the contract, the concessioner must sell convenience items at all 58 different NPS units throughout the Southeast, including units where existing concessioners operate. Notably, NPS did not permit offerors to bid on providing these services at selected sites, including park areas where they may already be operating. The minimum franchise fee under the contract is 6% (which is the current fee being paid by Eastern National).