Booz Allen Consulting gets paid every time a user makes a reservation on Recreation.gov, per its government contract, and is profiting from U.S. National Park visits.
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Visitors driving into Montana’s Glacier National Park this summer must buy a vehicle pass on Recreation.gov. The pass is free, but visitors pay a $2 fee to book the reservation.
Visitors might assume that, like entrance fees, the reservation charges help pay for improving trails around the park’s Running Eagle Falls or expanding the park’s volunteer program. But a chunk of the money ends up with consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.
Booz Allen runs Recreation.gov, the website and app where people book campsites, hikes and permits on U.S. public land. The company has a five-year contract that is up for renewal this year. In its bid for the work, Booz Allen used data provided by the government to estimate that over the first five years of the contract, it would receive $87 million, and a total of about $182 million over 10 years.
Booz Allen gets paid every time a user makes a reservation on Recreation.gov, per its government contract. That has earned the company money far beyond the projections in its bid.
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Booz Allen invoiced the government for more than $140 million from October 2018 to November 2022, the most recent date available, according to documents obtained by The Wall Street Journal in a public-records request. Ten months remain to be counted for that initial five-year period.
This arrangement for the Recreation.gov program, in which the government and Booz Allen work together on a number of services including a reservation website, contact center and data sharing, has led to criticism from some park goers. They have questioned whether the government negotiated a payment structure that is in the public’s best interest.
Government officials say this payment structure shifts the risk onto the contractor. Asked about the Recreation.gov contract over time, the government said it continuously re-evaluates market trends when striking a deal related to reservations on public lands.
Visits to public lands surged during the pandemic as Americans vacationed outdoors, prompting many parks to add reservation systems to manage crowds and protect natural resources.
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