‘Climate friendly strategies,’ ‘Let’s Move!’ support now among criteria for winning government contracts

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
Font Size:

Want to win a contract to operate concessions on federal property? Be ready to explain how your business promotes Obama administration desires like “climate friendly strategies” and the first lady’s “Let’s Move!” anti-childhood obesity effort.

Proposal documents obtained by The Daily Caller reveal that the National Park Service favors those who promote these Obama White House priorities when deciding which concessioners they will allow to operate businesses on federally owned property.

The documents outline what criteria the National Park Service considered when awarding a concessions contract for operating the Silver Gull Beach Club and Breezy Point Beach Club on federally owned land in New York this summer.

These guidelines tell bidders that the National Park Service is “interested in supporting the goals of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! Initiative.”

“Describe how your proposal supports these goals, including measures that will encourage healthy options for food and beverages and active, exercise-oriented recreation,” reads proposal packages for both locations.

Guidelines for both beach clubs add that bidders with “climate friendly strategies” to “reduce its greenhouse gas emissions” also will be favored. The guidelines state that this is encouraged because the beach clubs are part of the Gateway National Recreation Area which “has developed strategies to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.”

Prospective concessioners are told to “describe the actions you will take to support the Park’s Climate Friendly Park designation. A better response might include a variety of actions … and might provide multiple actions for each area addressed.”

In an email to The Daily Caller, National Park Service spokesman Jeffrey Olson dismissed the notion that the Obama White House’s pet agendas are being pushed on businesses that seek concessions contracts.

“The concepts of ‘climate friendly strategies’ and ‘Let’s Move’ are consistent with legal founding and policies of concessions contracts for the NPS outside of any specific White House focus,” Olson told TheDC.

“Because the beach clubs are geared toward recreation with some food services, using the Let’s Move initiative as a baseline to generate proposals on how the potential concession providers would incorporate healthy food options and exercise-based recreation seems especially appropriate,” he added.

The National Park Service administers more than 500 concession contracts worth more than $1 billion a year, according to its website. Concessioners are private companies that work with the National Park Service to offer specialized services to park visitors.

Olson said the “climate friendly” and “Let’s Move” sub-factors were designed specifically for the Silver Gull Beach Club and Breezy Point Beach Club prospectus packages.

But proposal packages for other parks could see similar concepts, he said, “such as water conservation and encouraging outdoor activities.”

With these guidelines, it’s hardly surprising that the National Park Service awarded both of the concessions contracts for the two beach clubs in New York to Ortega Family Enterprises, which has been recognized by the Obama administration for its promotion of “sustainable foods in his National Park concessions” that are both healthy and eco-friendly.

Armand Ortega of Santa Fe, N.M., who in 2011 spoke at the White House Conference on Sustainable Foods, leads that company. He also testified before Congress in May 2010 and spoke of his sustainable food operation at Muir Woods National Monument in California.

Tanya Ortega, Armand’s daughter and a spokeswoman for the bid-winning company, said she supports the government’s use of those factors when awarding the contract.

“The things that the Obama administration is doing are great, and they’re fabulous. … These initiatives are really great,” she said.

Follow Alex on Twitter

Read the Interior Department concesions proposals: