Summary: S.624 — 105th Congress (1997-1998)All Information (Except Text)

There is one summary for S.624. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Introduced in Senate (04/22/1997)

National Park Service Concession Policy Reform Act of 1997 - Repeals the Concessions Policy Act of 1965.

(Sec. 5) Directs the Secretary of the Interior to authorize, under specified conditions, private persons, corporations, or other entities to provide and operate such facilities and services as the Secretary deems necessary and appropriate in the National Park System (NPS).

(Sec. 6) Authorizes the Secretary, upon request and under specified criteria, to allow such entities to provide services to park visitors through a commercial use authorization. Requires the provision of such services to have minimal impact on park resources and values and to be consistent with park purposes. Provides a two-year term limit for the provision of such services.

(Sec. 7) Requires a concession contract to be awarded to the person submitting the best proposal through a competitive selection process to be established by the Secretary. Allows waiver of such procedures and award of a temporary contract to avoid interruption of services.

Requires the Secretary to publish a notice of availability for a prospectus soliciting proposals for contracts for concessions at a Park specifying minimum contract requirements and contract terms and conditions. Requires congressional notification of any proposed contract with anticipated gross receipts exceeding $5 million or of a duration of ten or more years.

Prohibits the Secretary from granting a preferential right to a concessioner to: (1) renew concession contracts under this Act, with exceptions; or (2) provide new or additional services at a park. Allows such preferential rights to be granted for certain outfitting and guide contracts and certain contracts with annual gross receipts of under $500,000.

(Sec. 8) Sets forth criteria for determining franchise fees, including fees for multiple franchise contracts within a park.

(Sec. 9) Requires all fees to be covered into a special Treasury account established for reallocation to NPS units for resource management and protection, maintenance activities, interpretation, and research. Provides, during FY 1998 through 2002, for the allocation of excess account funds to NPS units on the basis of need. Requires, beginning in FY 1998, biennial audits of concession fees by the Inspector General of the Department of the Interior.

(Sec. 10) Establishes a maximum: (1) ten-year duration for a concessions contract, provided that the Secretary may award a contract for up to 20 years if determined necessary; and (2) two-year duration for a temporary contract.

(Sec. 11) Requires the approval of the Secretary before a concession contract can be transferred, assigned, sold, or conveyed and sets forth conditions that preclude such conveyance.

(Sec. 12) Grants possessory interest to: (1) concessioners who have commenced acquisition or construction of any structure on Federal land within a park before the enactment of this Act; and (2) concessioners who construct or acquire an improvement on U.S. land within a Park after enactment of this Act.

(Sec. 13) Places limitations on a concessioner's rates and charges to the public.

(Sec. 14) Directs the Secretary to: (1) periodically evaluate the performance of each concessioner under contract; and (2) terminate a contract if a concessioner fails, within the prescribed time, to meet minimum requirements identified in a notice of unsatisfactory performance.

(Sec. 15) Provides that the Comptroller General of the United States shall, until the expiration of five calendar years after the close of the business year for each concessioner, have access to and the right to examine any pertinent books, documents, papers, and records of the concessioner related to the contracts.

(Sec. 16) Exempts contracts awarded by the Secretary under this Act from certain provisions of Federal law with respect to the leasing of U.S. buildings and properties.

(Sec. 17) Authorizes appropriations.