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Challenge Cost Sharing Cooperative Management Program Frequently Asked Questions Banner

Frequently Asked Questions

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    Q. Is this the same thing as the Cooperative Joint Management (CJM) partnership agreements that were determined to be illegal in 2013?
    A. No. While there are some similarities, this authority provided by WRDA 2016 allows cooperative management only with non-Federal public entities. It does not extend to nonprofit cooperating associations or other private entities. It does not involve a Real Estate lease or other instrument. It requires a competitive process to select the eligible cooperative entity.

    Q. Do CCSCM Agreements need to be administered by a Grants Officer?
    A. No, although WRDA 1992 Sec 225 uses the term "cooperative agreement", CCSCMAs are NOT cooperative agreements as that term in used under the Federal Grant and Cooperative Agreement Act of 1977. They are not subject to Department of Defense Grant and Agreement Regulations, not executed by a certified grants officer, and do not transfer a thing of value from the Corps to a non-Federal entity.

    Q. What entities are considered 'non-Federal public entities'?

  • State governments
  • County governments
  • Municipality or local governments
  • Public institutions of higher education
  • Indian Tribes
  • Q. What areas are eligible for cooperative management?

  • Facilities and natural resources in Project Site Areas on Corps fee-title land (or any land on which the Corps fully operates and maintains PSAs, including Tribal lands)
  • PSAs that the Corps has historically fully operated and maintained (never outgranted)
  • Previously outgranted PSAs where the lease was terminated prior to 4 April 2018
  • PSAs that are outgranted or cooperatively managed where the lease or other agreement term ends or is otherwise terminated after 4 April 2018 must receive written approval from the ASA(CW) that the area is suitable for co-management and operation under Section 1155 before an agreement can be executed.
  • Q. Can the cooperative management public partner collect and retain user fees?
    A. Yes. A non-Federal public entity that has entered into a Challenge Partnership Cooperative Management Agreement for a Corps PSA may collect and retain up to 100% of the user fees at the site, and shall use any retained amount for operation, maintenance, and management activities at the PSA where the fees were collected.

    Q. Does it matter whether the sites where fees are being collected by the partner were developed or constructed by the Corps?
    A. No. A non-Federal public entity that has entered into a CCSCM agreement can collect user fees for the use of developed recreation sites and facilities, whether developed or constructed by that entity or the Department of the Army.

    Q. If a non-Federal public entity enters into a challenge cost sharing cooperative management agreement to manage multiple PSAs (parks) do they need to keep all of those accounts separate, or can they move the money around the sites that are under one agreement?
    A. The fees have to stay at the site where collected. See 33 U.S.C. 2328(c)(2)(B) (the non-federal public entity "shall use any retained amount for operation, maintenance, and management activities AT THE RECREATION SITE AT WHICH THE FEE IS COLLECTED". A partner could have one account for all sites, but they'd have to ensure that funds are invested at each site in amounts equal to those collected at each site, and we'd need to hold them to the requirement through our reviews of their budget and accounting documents.

    Q. Can the cooperative management public partner use the Corps reservation service?
    A. Not yet. While WRDA 2016 Section 1155 provided the legal authority for the non-Federal public entity to use any visitor reservation service that the Corps has set up through contract or interagency agreement to manage fee collections and reservations, changes need to be made in the R1S contract and processes developed for the partner to participate in the contract.

    Q. If an interested eligible non-Federal public entity approaches the Corps and wants to enter into a CCSCM agreement, what does the Corps need to do?
    A. There is a competition requirement when setting up a cooperatively managed PSA. The Operations Project Manager must develop criteria and evaluation methods and the District Commander must distribute a notice of availability posted for a minimum of 10 days. The OPM will review the submitted proposals and make recommendations to the District Operations Chief and District Commander based on the selection criteria provided in the notice.

    Q. What documents are needed to cooperatively manage a PSA for a non-Federal public entity?
    A. A Challenge Cost Sharing Cooperative Management Agreement (CCSCMA) signed by the District Commander and Partner Operations Plan signed by the OPM are required.

    Q. Is there a fixed rate of cost share under a CCSCMA?
    A. No, there is not a fixed rate of cost share. Percentages are determined by mutual agreement between the Corps and the partner(s) and the roles of each entity are flexible.

    Q. Will the Corps still patrol the cooperatively managed PSAs?
    A. Yes, at a minimum, the Corps must continue to provide visitor assistance ranger patrols. All other tasks associated with park operations must be negotiated between the Corps and the partner(s) and clearly outlined in the CCSCMA and Partner Operation Plan.

    Q. Can the partner charge whatever fees they would like to?
    A. The partner may only charge fees according to ER 1130-2-550 Chapter 9, utilizing the Corps fee structure and may only charge fees if permitted by the Corps (campsites, swimming beaches, shelters, boat launch ramps, recreation equipment and services, special use permits).

    Q. Does the partner have to accept America the Beautiful and Corps Annual Day Use passes?
    A. Yes, the partner must accept the ATB and Corps Annual Day Use passes and associated discounts.

    Q. Can the partner retain the fees from the sale of Corps Annual Day use passes and ATB passes?
    A. The partner can retain the fees from Corps Annual Day use passes, but must return fees collected from the sale of ATB passes to the Corps project for deposit in the appropriate special account in the US Treasury, per ER 1130-2-550 Chapter 9. Proceeds from ATB pass sales are the only proceeds that partners must remit to the Corps. Corps annual pass sales are included in the definition of "Recreation Fees" under ER 1130-2-550 and may be retained and expended by the partner.

    Q. Can the partner use the collected fees to fund contractors and staff?
    A. Yes, they may use fees collected in the cooperatively managed area to fund contractors, term, temporary, seasonal or permanent staff

    Q. Can the Corps provide equipment for use by the partner?
    A. Yes, the Corps may provide/loan equipment, materials, and supplies to the partner to operate and maintain the PSA. The non-Federal partner may be authorized to operate Government-owned or leased vehicles, vessels or other equipment if deemed appropriate and beneficial. In such cases, the same licensing policies and procedures that apply to Corps personnel in similar situations will apply to partners.

    Q. Does the partner sign a lease to operate the area? Is this the same as an outgrant?
    A. No, since the Corps is retaining partial operation of the area and still has management responsibilities, a real estate instrument is not needed

    Q. If the partner wants to obtain a real estate interest from the Corps to perform activities beyond the scope of the CCSCMA, such as a concessionaire lease in the co-managed PSA, do they need to compete for the opportunity?
    A. Yes, the district office will handle such requests in accordance with real estate regulations and policies. The partner will not receive preference or advantage as a result of the CCSCMA.

    Q. Why would a potential partner and the Corps use a CCSCMA instead of a traditional lease?
    A. Ougrants involve a real estate lease where the Corps is completely turning over management and operation to the partner. Under an outgrant, the Corps does not have any costs associated with the PSA other than minimal real estate annual review, and does not get to count visitation for the park. Cooperative Management Agreements do not require a real estate instrument. The Corps still has costs associated with running the park, as outlined in the agreement (can be whatever percentage is agreed upon), still gets to count visitation for the park, and still gets money in budget packages to operate the park. This can be particularly useful for Corps areas that are at risk of closing due to lack of funds. A partner can help with the O&M, but not have to take over all costs to keep an area open for the public. The partner must also reinvest the user fees back into the site where collected, which is not required in a standard outgrant.

    Q. Will our annual appropriations be decreased since we will be getting income from another funding source to operate the parks?
    A. This is not an Outgrant, so the Corps will still need to receive funding for our portion of O&M of the area. Corps funding packages may shift to Full mission or Specific Work Activity depending on the Corps role in the cooperatively managed area.

    Q. What is the incentive/reason why a partner would want to enter into one of these agreements?

  • They do not have to sign a lease to completely take over management and all costs of running the park.
  • If a park that is operated by the Corps is at risk of closing or reducing services due to Federal budget cuts, and the partner would like to continue to see that park stays open, this is a way for them to help share in costs but not pay for everything.
  • The partner can collect and retain all fees, which they can then use to pay for more staff for their organization (as long as that staff is used to operate the park or administer the agreement). It can be a money making venture for them.
  • Presumably, any partner that is interested in entering into these agreements has a mission and goals of providing quality recreation opportunities to the public in their communities, so they may want to help manage the parks to provide those services beyond what they already own, operate and maintain on their own fee owned lands.
  • If a public university were to be the partner, there is great opportunity to have their recreation students operate and maintain the parks for hands on learning experience, and fund the salaries for the students to manage the jointly operated park.
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