Overview of the Outside Services (OSS) Program
We started the OSS program in 2012 to help groups receive access to and share resources, and be able to build in a timely fashion. Without a program and service gate in place, providers of outside services had difficulty making deliveries and providing on-site services (such as installing, maintaining, and servicing power grids). Burning Man personnel were also being pulled away from their intended roles to manage deliveries or troubleshoot service provider arrivals and direct them to their clients.
More than 200 placed and unplaced camps used the OSS program in 2019. They ranged from very large camps to very small camps and included theme camps, mutant vehicle camps, and artist support camps.
Some of the types of equipment and services provided by OSS-approved providers include:
- Transport and delivery
- RVs and trailers
- Domes and yurts
- Electrical generators
- Fuel delivery
- Heavy equipment
- Sanitation Services
- Portable buildings
- Water delivery
In order to help camps/projects access and arrange the infrastructure support through the OSS program, Burning Man Project publishes an annual list of previously contracted providers on the Burning Man website. Note that service providers not in good standing at the end of a season are not permitted to participate in the following OSS program year. Your feedback about the OSS program is important to us. If you have specific feedback about an OSS provider, please use THIS FEEDBACK FORM.
If you can’t get the equipment or services you need via the OSS program, consider rethinking your camp operations, doing more with less, and getting back to basics. Bigger is not necessarily better, and we encourage participants to “celebrate the small.” We also encourage all theme camp organizers and leads to take part in the annual Theme Camp Symposium, as it provides excellent opportunities to learn best practices and connect with other camp leads. The Theme Camp Symposium dates are announced every year via the Placement Newsletter.
We want camps to identify opportunities to share resources with their neighbors. If you’re filling out a Placed Camp Questionnaire, you can indicate whether you’re willing to have your contact information shared with neighbors. We’ve seen wonderful examples of neighborliness and communal effort stemming from camps sharing resources like heavy equipment and power.
If you aren’t coming to the Burning Man event this year, there are many peer-to-peer platforms and networks where you can share infrastructure, RVs, and other equipment for use by our community. Check out Spark here.
Cultural Direction Setting and OSS:
While many camps have used the program as intended, for some it became the backbone of their production, with camps being fully serviced by vendors. Over the years, we saw a huge growth in RV and trailer vending, and a corresponding increase in environmental compliance issues. We also saw vendors expand their offerings from RVs, trailers and generators to convenience items like e-bikes, Segways and mutant vehicle rentals.
As making Burning Man more “convenient” was never the intent of the OSS program, Burning Man Project has been taking steps to ensure the program is in alignment with Communal Effort, Civic Responsibility, Participation and Radical Self-reliance, four of the 10 Principles that are the cornerstone of our community and culture.
Since 2018, no new providers of housing have been allowed to apply to the program. We have also continued to hold each OSS housing provider to the inventory allowance they had in 2018, and in future years, we will either hold them at those numbers or further decrease the amount of delivered housing units available through the program. We are actively encouraging participants to re-evaluate their housing arrangements if you are not able to bring your housing into the event yourself.
We have also actively addressed price gouging concerns. OSS providers’ pricing should not increase by more than 5% from each year to year. The Outside Services manager will investigate any complaints that service providers have imposed large price hikes. Those vendors found to have done so risk being excluded from participation in the OSS program.
OSS Provider FAQ