The National Park Service recently published a notice that it was awarding 16 temporary outfitter and guide concessions contracts to qualified persons for guided river trips in Grand Canyon National Park. The terms of the temporary contracts are up to three (3) years. The agency intends to award the contracts to the incumbent concessioners who hold current contracts for these services. The notices states that, if the agency is not able to reach “acceptable terms” with any incumbent, it may award the temporary contract to a different entity. The notice further states that the temporary contracts are being awarded to avoid interruption of visitor services.
NPS is authorized to issue temporary contracts without any public solicitation pursuant to 36 C.F.R. § 51.24. The agency typically awards temporary contracts when it has been unable to complete a prospectus process for award of new long term contracts and has exhausted its authority to extend existing contracts. In this instance, the agency issued a prospectus for new long term contracts in 2019. The prospectus, however, was challenged on the basis that the fees required under the prospectus would have an adverse impact on the visitor experience and was subsequently withdrawn by the agency.