National Recreation Reservation System contract to move ahead

Bidder Spherix Inc. agrees to settlement

Recreation enthusiasts should be able to start using federal consolidated reservation services, possibly as early as next year, the U.S. Forest Service announced, now that a bidder has settled the legal argument over the award of the $97 million National Recreation Reservation System.

Spherix Inc. of Beltsville, Md., agreed to a $6 million settlement to end the contract dispute.

The Forest Service, an agency of the Agriculture Department, twice awarded the 10-year contract, the last time in June 2005, to ReserveAmerica, a subsidiary of Ticketmaster.

The Government Accountability Office ruled twice in favor of Spherix in the company's protests of the award of the recreation information and reservation service contract to ReserveAmerica of Ballston Spa, N.Y.

The Forest Service gave ReserveAmerica a start-work order Oct. 20, two days after the parties finalized the settlement, said Jim Bedwell, national director of recreation and heritage resources at the Forest Service.

"Our intent is to move ahead as quickly as possible so people during late winter and spring are able to make plans for the spring and summer season," he said.

The contract will consolidate and expand existing federal reservation services and offer one-stop shopping for federal recreation areas and facilities as part of the president's Recreation One-Stop e-government initiative.

The reservation service will offer centralized information for more than 57,000 campgrounds, cabins and parks, and tours of national sites through a single portal at www.recreation.gov. The sites and facilities fall under the Forest Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Interior Department's National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation.

Spherix and ReserveAmerica have held separate contracts to operate reservation services for the National Park Service and the Forest Service. With the settlement in place, Spherix is expected to continue operating the National Park Reservation Service until Ticketmaster/ReserveAmerica is able to deploy its reservations system over the combined inventory of national parks, recreation areas, historical sites, and other federal lands.

Mary Mosquera is a staff writer for Washington Technology's sister publication, Government Computer News.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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