Law, Regulation & Policy

In 1916, the passage of the National Park Service Organic Act established the National Park Service (NPS). It is from this original law that the NPS Commercial Services Program evolved.

What Laws Govern Concessions?

The 1965 Concession Policy Act (Public Law 89-249) historically governed concession contracts and operations. This law authorized numerous policies and procedures regarding concessions operations.

Congress enacted the 1998 Concessions Management Improvement Act (Public Law 105-391) with the objective of improving concessions and increasing competition of contracts.

Some of the major changes in the 1998 Act include:

  • Reduced preferential right situations
  • Franchise fee distribution changes
  • New competitive bid requirements
  • Increased accountability and oversight
quote about commercial services

What Regulations Govern Concessions?

Regulations which cover concession contracts can be found at 36 CFR 51 which address:

  • Contract Solicitation, Selection and Award Procedures
  • Right of Preference to a New Concession Contract and Determining a Preferred Offeror
  • Leasehold Surrender Interest and Possessory Interest
  • Concession Contract Provisions
  • Assignment or Encumbrance of Concession Contracts

What Policies Govern Concessions?

In order to implement the requirements of law and regulation, the NPS has a specific set of Management Policies that guide agency operations. These policies are an indispensable tool to help NPS employees manage parks responsibly and make rational, well-informed decisions. The public may also refer to these policies to understand how the NPS will meet its park management responsibilities under the 1916 NPS Organic Act. Chapter 10 of NPS Management Policies provides management guidance specific to commercial visitor services. Program processes and procedures to implement the policy contained in Management Policies can be found in the Commercial Services Guide. Additional polices are provided by topic below.

Minimum Wage Executive Order (PDF 158 KB)
12/22/2014 Guidance for implementing the regulations that establish a minimum wage for federal contractors
Delegations of Authority and Related Program Accountability Standards (PDF 760 KB)
8/2/2012 Memorandum related to the development and approval of prospectuses for concession contracts and asset management issues.

Concessons Management Improvement Act (PDF 161 KB)
11/13/1998 Public Law 105-391, Title IV Concessions Law, a.k.a. National Parks Omnibus Management Act of 1998 or the NPS Concessions Management Improvement Act of 1998.
Roadbased Commercial Tour - Standard Commercial Use Authorization Process (PDF 176 KB)
8/6/2018 This provides guidance on standardizing the application process and fees for road-based commercial tour commercial use authorizations.

Limiting Commercial Use Authorizations Guidance (PDF 63 KB)
6/19/2017 Guidance on limiting the number of commercial use authorizations (CUAs) and on establishing conditions limiting CUA activity to mitigate existing or potential visitor and resource impacts.

Commercial Use Authorizations Insurance Guidance (PDF 246 KB)
6/19/2017 All commercial operators must carry and maintain the appropriate categories of insurance and minimum amounts of coverage.

Management of Commercial Use Authorizations Fees (PDF 264 KB)
11/12/2015 Provides guidance on how the National Park Service determines, collects, and credits fees associated with issuing Commercial Use Authorizations.

Charging Fees for Commercial Use Authorizations (PDF 27 KB)
11/12/2015 Supplements the Interim Guidelines for Commercial Use Authorizations.
Simplified Procedures for Small Business (PDF 90 KB)
7/1/2013 Recommended definition for small, individually-owned concession contracts for purposes of applying simplified procedures.

Establishment of a Commercial Services Program Debriefing Policy (PDF 297 KB)
3/23/2010 Procedures for the debriefing of offerors following the NPS evaluation of an offerror's proposal for new concession contract.

Standard Contract Language for Category I, II, and III Contracts (PDF 138 KB)
3/19/2010 Revised guidelines on the changes to the standard concession contract language as published in the Federal Register July 19, 2000, and as revised January 22, 2009.

Standard Concession Contract Language (PDF 86 KB)
1/16/2009 Standard concession contract language and procedures for deviation requests for category I, II, and III contracts.

Authorizing Activities through Leases, Concession Contracts, or Commercial Use Authorizations (PDF 45 KB)
5/29/2007 Guidance in making a determination as to whether an activity should be a lease, CUA, or concession contract.

Standard Concession Contract Notice - Revision (PDF 333 KB)
5/4/2000 Revision of the NPS standard concession contract.
Three Things You Need to Know About Firewood Sales (PDF 86 KB)
5/10/2012 To prevent the spread of invasive species in firewood, the National Park Service Natural Resources Division has developed updated guidance titled, "Reducing Ecological Risks Associated with Pests in Firewood."
Guidelines for Use of Concession 80 Percent Franchise Fees (PDF 163 KB)
Five categories of evaluation criteria to determine 80 percent franchise fee spending.
Approval of Waiver for Obtaining Appraisals (PDF 82 KB)
7/30/2013 This memorandum waives the requirement for appraisals contained in Reference Manual 38 on Leasing for certain types of property.
Water Bottle Program Discontinuation (PDF 36 KB)
8/21/2017 Policy Memorandum 11-03 which established the Disposable Water Bottle Reduction Program was discontinued through an NPS News Release issued August 16, 2017.

2013 FDA Food Code Changes (PDF 141 KB)
11/13/2013 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration released the latest version of the Model Food Code for adoption by other governmental jurisdictions.

NPS Healthy and Sustainable Foods for Front Country Operationsf (PDF 416 KB)
9/23/2013 National Park Service Healthy Food Choice Standards and Sustainable Food Choice Guidelines for Front Country Operations

Guest Donation Program Memo (PDF 78 KB)
3/19/2013 The National Park Service Guest Donation Program offers parks and concessioners an opportunity to work together to engage visitors in supporting national parks.

NPS Healthy and Sustainable Foods for Backcountry Operations (PDF 484 KB)
9/20/2012 Guidelines for healthy and sustainable food choice for backcountry operations.

New Accessibility Requirements (PDF 262 KB)
2/15/2012 New accessibility requirements for concessioners with lodging and tools to evaluate accessibility compliance.

Concession Evaluations Charges (PDF 151 KB)
4/29/2011 Process for Assessing Services and Handling Charges Incurred as Part of Concession Evaluations

Organized Labor Memoradum (PDF 225 KB)
4/8/2022 This memorandum provides guidance on NPS policy and procedures related to labor practices under concession contracts.

Organized Labor Memorandum-Addendum (PDF 142 KB)
8/3/2022 This memorandum provides further guidance on NPS policy and procedures related to labor practices under concession contracts.
Commercial Recreational Service Insurance Requirements Guidance (PDF 60 KB)
10/16/2014 Temporary guidance for recreational insurance requirements.

Requirements for Reducing the Potential for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning (PDF 63 KB)
1/30/2012 This memorandum outlines new requirements for concession boat rental and marina operations to help control the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning.

Last updated: September 9, 2022