GSA taps five companies for contact center services

Pearson Government Solutions Inc. of Arlington and Aspen Systems Corp. of Rockville were two of five companies selected by the General Services Administration to provide contact center services to federal agencies.

The contract, known as Multi-channel Contact Center Services, has a combined value of $150 million over five years for the companies. The five companies will compete for orders from individual agencies.

The companies will run contact centers where citizens can get information about an agency's services through the telephone, e-mail, written correspondence or online assistance such as Web chats. Agencies will be able to tailor the contact services to their particular needs by providing self-service or a live operator or a combination, GSA officials said.

"We believe that there is a strong demand for the wide array of contact center services offered in this contract vehicle," said Richard Rosenthal, vice president and general manager of Aspen Systems' Information Services and Technology Group.

Aspen Systems is currently providing contact center support for the Fish and Wildlife Service, the State Department and, the federal government's official Web portal. The company, which has nearly 2,000 employees, reported sales of $157 million and net income of $6 million in 2003.

The contract is designed for smaller agencies that may not have the staff, technical expertise or budget to provide contact services themselves, said government and industry officials involved with the contract.

"Smaller programs will find it to be tremendously helpful in meeting their goals to achieve the same kind of high-quality customer satisfaction that some of the larger agencies are able to achieve," said Terry Daley, director of strategic initiatives for Pearson's e-government business.

For Pearson, the contract award means a chance to serve a wide range of government needs while demonstrating its leadership in performance-based contact centers, Daley said. Pearson Government Solutions has about 3,000 employees and had annual revenue of $293 million in fiscal 2003.

Daley declined to say how much revenue the company expects to generate through the contract, but he did say the company "expects to secure a good percentage of the business."

The contact center contract is a direct outgrowth of the USA Services e-government initiative, which is designed to help citizens access information about government and federal services. The mission of USA Services is to present citizens with a single "front door" for government, allowing them to receive accurate, timely and consistent answers and information.

The government expects to receive 240 million citizen inquiries through the program in fiscal 2004, said Teresa Nasif, director of the Federal Citizens Information Center and USA Services' executive sponsor.

The majority of those inquiries will be for information about benefits, grants and passports, including questions related to the Medicaid program, student loans, and retirement and veteran benefits, she said.

The three other companies selected by GSA to participate in the contract are Datatrac Information Services Inc. of Richardson, Texas; ICT Group Inc. of Newtown, Pa.; and Teletech Government Solutions Inc. of Englewood, Colo.

(First story posted July 27. Expanded story updated Aug. 2)

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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