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Old 02-26-2023, 10:54 PM   #1
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Recreation.gov lawsuit....

Saw this article in my newsfeed this evening about a lawsuit recently filed against the government contractor that runs recreation.gov:

Recreation.gov wrongful fees lawsuit

I looked back at some of my recreation.gov reservations from the last few years and did notice that some of them had a "Reservation fee" on top of the main "Camp Use" fee, but not all of them. A few simply had the "Camp Use" fee. No indication as to why some would have the extra fee added. It will be interesting to see how the case goes and hopefully the end result isn't a worse situation for everyone trying to use the service to go camping and visit public lands.
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Old 02-27-2023, 07:01 AM   #2
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I saw this on another forum the other day. My first impression is that this lawsuit was filed by a handful of well-healed rable rousers who are just ticked off because Booz Allen Hamilton is making money.

People don't realize that there are real costs to owning and operating a site like Recreation.gov. and Booz Allen Hamilton is not in business for its health. Yes, the company makes a lot of money on the government dole, but so do a lot of other companies. In many cases federal, state and local governments hire contractors because contractors can provide better services at lower costs.

One example mentioned was a $6 application fee for a hiking permit, where 20-some thousand people applied for 330 permits. No doubt the number of applicants would have been expotentially higher without the application fee.

Cancelation fees are another example. People on this and other forum complain all the time about about showing up at the campground and seeing reserved campsites sit empty for days. Imagine, how much worse that would be if there were no cancelation fees.

We regularly use Recreation.gov to reserve sites in ACOE parks. Probably because Kansas (where we do most of our camping) is not a top tourist destination, we haven't experienced many of these fees. The exception is cancelation fees, which I expect are at least partially dictated by the facilities. Contrary to another example in the story, we've been able to make changes to reservations including changing sites and dates with no fees.

Overall, our experiece with Recreation.gov has been positive. My only complaint was the maps that were implemented with the last overhaul of the site sucked. But in the years since, they've improved considerably IMO.
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Old 02-27-2023, 08:20 AM   #3
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There are lots of other examples of handling fees by providers (tickets for concerts and sporting events are some). In Canada, the provider that supplies the Ontario Provincial Parks system also charges a handling fee. These people should think what it would be like if there was no online option, and they had to phone into some understaffed call center where they wait on hold for 90 minutes to be told that nothing is available.
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Old 02-27-2023, 08:21 AM   #4
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I've used sites other States and municipalities use and I'll take Recreation.gov any day.
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Old 02-27-2023, 08:56 AM   #5
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Unfortunately these vendor fees for government services are getting very common. One example is the city where I live has farmed out payment services for online transactions. Fees are 5% of the transaction. So if I pay my tax bill online, it's going to cost me several hundred dollars more.

They call this a "convenience fee". For who's convenience? The city and the online provider are the only ones who benefit. So I pay mine in person. I realize that's not possible with online reservations but it illustrates the ridiculousness of these fees.

All that said, a small one time fee to me isn't a real big deal. If a reservation is only $6 that's fine. But they are talking about "junk fees". No reason to gouge people with fees over and above a modest fee.
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Old 02-27-2023, 10:47 AM   #6
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The first 6 pages are very informative regarding the lawsuit. One point I read that I wasn't aware of is that our gov did run the reservation system from 2002-2018 and then Booz Allen took it over in Oct 2018. If I remember correctly it was sometime shortly after 2018 when all of the National Parks (and related agencies) increased many of their fees for various reasons that seemed valid at the time (based on what I remember). However, it was also at that time that the now privatized recreation.gov implemented their own additional fees that the lawsuit claims they were never legally supposed to do so and calls them "junk" fees. I have read in the lawsuit and elsewhere that the excess fees did not result in hundreds of thousand of dollars additional profit, not even millions, but hundreds of millions, which should have never been charged (according to the lawsuit and yet to be determined). I will be paying attention to this lawsuit as I haven't determined exactly how I feel about all of this just yet, better stated is that I have mixed feelings at this time. ~CA

https://www.nationalparkstraveler.or...omplaint_0.pdf
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Old 02-27-2023, 07:03 PM   #7
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I've had many positive experiences with Rec.gov and haven't felt gouged. I may feel gouged if I received a statement of how much I've paid throughout the years.
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Old 02-27-2023, 08:17 PM   #8
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We are camping in a Nationsl Forest and many of the sites in Ocala NF are outsourced
We are in Juniper Springs and can swim for free.
Ocf we go on a day trip to Salt or Silver Run ( not to be confused with Silver River) or Alexander Springs we have to pay a fee even though we have Senior Pass
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Old 02-27-2023, 08:22 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TaftCoach View Post
I've had many positive experiences with Rec.gov and haven't felt gouged. I may feel gouged if I received a statement of how much I've paid throughout the years.
Like you and others that have posted my experience has been good as well though I don't use the site for planning purposes. As I mentioned in the OP I looked back at receipts from past reservations and found some with a $8 "reservation fee" and some without. I've not considered them to be excessive and other reservation systems like reserveramerica.com have the $8 "reservation fee" as well.
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Old 02-27-2023, 08:40 PM   #10
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Here is an article from National Parks Traveler -- the same publication that originally published the article about the lawsuit -- from a couple years ago that provides some good background about Recreation.gov.
https://www.nationalparkstraveler.or...-recreationgov
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Old 02-27-2023, 08:42 PM   #11
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Interesting, certainly conflicting information as the lawsuit I shared a link to simply states:

3. From 2002 until 2018, recreation.gov was run by the United States government, and efficiently facilitated millions of reservations to National Parks and other federal lands.

The same website you and I linked to also stated that the contract the gov has with Boze Allen Hamilton is not publicly available so they (the National Parks Traveler website) don't know yet if the junk fees are allowed. However, they have filed for a Freedom of Information Act request for the contract details which they have not received a reply as of yet (filed in Jan). So much for transparency. I still have mixed feelings, it is not about whether one of us were charged 8~10$ for a fee that shouldn't have been charged, just that when multiplied by many millions of people and many occurrences for those people that it all adds up and of course I suspect we all know the National Parks service (and others) claim they need more dollars to keep their facilities in operation, which in my experience appears to be true. ~CA
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Old 02-28-2023, 09:54 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kim Gass View Post
We are camping in a Nationsl Forest and many of the sites in Ocala NF are outsourced
We are in Juniper Springs and can swim for free.
Ocf we go on a day trip to Salt or Silver Run ( not to be confused with Silver River) or Alexander Springs we have to pay a fee even though we have Senior Pass
Is this the same as Silver Glen Run (Springs)?
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Old 03-01-2023, 03:30 PM   #13
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I read the article this weekend in the RVTravel.com newsletter. My thought was that the article appeared to be written by the lawsuits attorney and would therefore be biased. I figure I will have to wait to hear what response Booz Allen Hamilton has before having an opinion. My initial thought was I couldn't run the system without money to support it. The article made no mention about any operational and maintenance fees.
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Old 03-01-2023, 04:05 PM   #14
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I too have seen this and am using the wait and see approach. Honestly I have not thought about it till I saw the lawsuit. I agree that its actually one of the best if not the best camping and other reservation tools out there! Have always had good experiences with it.

But I do have some questions:
1. Why charge the fee and then keep the fee vs apply it toward the final bill of camping space, or permit etc? Including a cancellation fee or no show fee.. (I hate the crazy number of people who make the reservations and never show. We see this all the time here in the west at the big parks. Their supposedly full but half of the spots are open while were there)

2. Taking into account the desire for a fee or need to recoup cost of hosting etc.. Shouldn't this have been part of the bidding process when they were awarded the contract? Basically I could see it similar to double taxation as its our use of our federal lands that we already pay for. Booze Allen has possibly been sipping a bit too long.. (Again I want to see more about the facts of the case) There are a lot of us wanting to use the lands so controlling that totally makes sense.

Im sure there are many other thoughts but these two are the low hanging fruit.
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Old 03-01-2023, 04:45 PM   #15
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I would love to see a way to free up the no show sites but it would put a lot of responsibily on the campground hosts and potential conflict problems for them. Not an easy one to figure out.
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Old 03-05-2023, 07:22 AM   #16
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Fees

I am not against fees and actually thought recreation.gov was run by NPS .. silly me .. and fees all benefited national parks.

Fees are not bad for good service and peace of mind, but if private individual is making "excess profit" from fees then I'm against that. Why nowadays is everything for profit rated in terms of billions instead of millions. That just becomes pure greed.

Profit at such sites should be set at a maximum and all other funds provided to NPS
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Old 03-05-2023, 09:53 AM   #17
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This action is not a suit filed by the Federal govt but by a private law firm from what Ive read in National Park traveler. Like most class action lawsuits, the financial winners will probably be the lawyers not the users. Never seems to be any question of 'excess profits' on that side.
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