RVtravel.com reported on a lawsuit filed in February against Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc. (“Booz Allen”) pertaining to its contract operation of Recreation.gov on behalf of thirteen agencies of the U.S. federal government. On March 10, 2023, Booz Allen filed a Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit, along with a 48-page Memorandum of Law supporting its motion.
The suit, brought by patrons of camping and recreational facilities located on federal lands and managed through the Recreation.gov website, seeks to certify a class action to recover “Junk Fees” allegedly collected by Booz Allen. It further asks the court to halt the continued charge of the fees.
In its Memorandum, Booz Allen denies that it improperly charged Recreation.com users fees beyond those set forth in the company’s contract with the U.S. government. In addition, it claims that the plaintiffs lack standing to sue, that the U.S. Federal Court for the Eastern District of Virginia lacks jurisdiction over the defendant Booz Allen, and that plaintiffs failed to name the administrative agencies that are party to the management contract for Recreation.gov.
Defendant Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc. conveyed the following statement to RVtravel.com concurrent with its filing:
Booz Allen is proud of its work supporting Recreation.gov and the value that the Recreation One Stop program provides to the government and the public at large. We continue to strongly disagree with the plaintiffs’ mischaracterization of our role, which reflects a fundamental lack of understanding of the program and our contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.
Contrary to the plaintiffs’ misguided claims, Booz Allen operates Recreation.gov for use by 13 federal agencies, and those agencies determine whether to charge fees on Recreation.gov and how those fees are structured, collected, and ultimately used. Booz Allen does not charge any fees to—nor does it receive any fees from—the users of Recreation.gov, including the plaintiffs. Booz Allen is paid by the government in accordance with the terms of the contract.
America’s public lands, national parks, and cultural landmarks unite us and define who we are as a nation. We are honored to support Recreation One Stop’s efforts to preserve and enhance the public’s access to these national treasures. Our work supporting the Recreation.gov technology platform helps safely and equitably accommodate the growing demand on these resources, benefiting the government and, ultimately, American taxpayers.
United States District Court Judge Patricia T. Giles set the Booz Allen Motion to Dismiss for A HEARING ON May 18, 2023, in the Alexandria, VA, court. Plaintiffs have until April 14 to file in opposition to the motion.
As always, RVtravel.com will be monitoring all developments in the case.
“Booz Allen does not charge any fees to—nor does it receive any fees from—the users of Recreation.gov, including the plaintiffs. Booz Allen is paid by the government in accordance with the terms of the contract.”
Well, so much for BAH’s involvement in this suit. We can just wait and see if the suit is refiled naming the agencies as defendants.
Wow, One letter from their top liar and you’re sold. It may very well be true but making a decision based on a motion to dismiss is insane.
The lawsuit should be against the Federal agency or agencies that contracted with BAH and allowed them to set up such a fee reimbursement structure. Any fees that are legally permissible should go to those agencies and BAH should only be paid by those agencies for the actual work BAH performed. Allowing BAH to develop what is essentially their own money-printing service was inappropriate (and possibly in violation of the law). BAH was a typical government contractor – the real bad actors here were the Federal contracting officers and agency leadership who authorized this contract.
Not buying it! If you know my drift!……… Another case of Lawyers battling out for position (IMHO). Will be watching this.
I wonder if the government competitively bids the contract according to the law?
Even if they do, there is a huge fallacy in the whole contracting out idea. Having been both a government contracting officer, and a contractor, my view is that if you have a permanent need for any operation – janitorial, customer service, accounting, or anything else, it is far better to keep it in-house. You have control over in-house employees and operations which you do not have over contractors, plus with contractors you need contract managers and inspectors to manage the contracts. The contractors work to the contract, and any thing not included in the contract is subject to a change order, probably at an elevated price, whereas your own employees can perform “other duties as required.” The only time a contractor can save you money is when you have a short term need for personnel or a particular expertise and can avoid the staffing and training costs required to stand up that function.