TDEC puts effort to privatize golf courses on hold, for now

TSEA April 1, 2016 Comments Off on TDEC puts effort to privatize golf courses on hold, for now
TDEC puts effort to privatize golf courses on hold, for now

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation in an email yesterday announced it is for now placing on hold a Request for Proposals (RFP) to operate their nine Tennessee State Parks golf courses.

To view the email, click here

According to documents obtained by TSEA, the department planned on April 1, 2016 to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) to gauge outside concessionaires to manage and run their golf operations. The RFP would have been issued for 45 days, with a response due by May 18, 2016. Their intent was to award a contract by June 20, 2016.

In early 2014, the Department of Environment and Conservation issued a Request for Information (RFI), on behalf of Tennessee State Parks, seeking information from private for-profit companies to help the state assess the viability of leasing Tennessee’s State Park concessions and other revenue generating facilities.

Then, in 2015, an RFQ was issued by the administration as part of their effort to outsource hospitality operations at 11 state parks, but failed to draw any interest from private vendors.

During 2015’s RFQ process, the department discovered that vendors considered golf management a “specialty service.” After no bids were submitted in 2015, the department decided there was an opportunity to issue a separate RFP for their nine golf courses.

That RFP would not have included any of the inns, restaurants, marinas or cabins included in their original plan. According to the information we obtained, they are still evaluating what steps to take for those. But, that RFP would have required all current state employees affected by the proposal, who wished to keep their jobs, to reapply for their jobs under a private contractor.

For now, no state employees jobs will be affected as it appears the department’s plans are on hold.

According to an Associated Press story from December, one of the three companies who had expressed interest in a bid on the original RFQ dropped out due to doubts that legislators would approve funding for park facility upgrades.

TDEC, in late 2015, as part of their budget presentation to the governor requested $55 million for facility upgrades before the parks could be handed over to a private company.

Shortly after the news that no bids had been submitted, TSEA issued a statement regarding TDEC’s funding request.

“We completely agree with the $55 million needed in upgrades, and support TDEC in the use of these tax dollars,” TSEA President Merritt said. “But we also feel strongly it should remain out of private hands, as to not give the appearance of corporate welfare being handed out.”

TSEA will continue to monitor this and all efforts to privatize state services. Please check your email and our website often for updates.

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Chris Dauphin bylineAbout Chris Dauphin
Chris Dauphin is the Communications Director of TSEA.
Contact him by email: chris.dauphin@tseaonline.org
Contact him by phone: 615-256-4533 or 800-251-TSEA (8