Census releases $300 million RFP

The U.S. Census Bureau has issued a request for proposals for its $300 million Field Data Collection Automation program for the 2010 decennial census.

During the decennial census, population and housing data will be collected from paper-form mailings, the Internet, by phone and by enumerators sent into the field. The contract will encompass automation support for field data-collection activities.

The program's goal is to use IT systems to facilitate and support the bureau's field staff with the collection of census data in an efficient and cost-effective manner. The systems will be tested during a dress rehearsal that begins in 2007 and extends into 2008.

The bureau is looking for a systems integrator to develop, implement and manage the systems and to provide the support services required to conduct the field data-collection operations. Roughly 40 contractors have expressed an interest in either priming or acting as a subcontractor on the project, according to Input Inc., a market research firm that tracks government procurements.

The project will encompass five major interrelated elements: field systems integration and services management; data collection and administrative software applications; field office automation equipment; mobile computing equipment; and automation support services.

The Field Data Collection Automation program's field infrastructure consists of 12 temporary regional census centers that will manage the field data collection for their regions, and more than 500 local census offices with management and clerical staff who oversee the data-collection process. It also will include up to 4,000 field operations supervisors and about 40,000 crew leaders who manage the groups of census blocks within their local census office jurisdiction, and up to 500,000 enumerators who will conduct the bulk of the data collection work.

The program will interact with several external entities, including the National Processing Center, which puts together and distributes kits with materials for field work; data capture centers that optically scan mailed-in census questionnaires and consolidate data collected in the field; data processing headquarters, which analyzes census data; the Office of Personnel Management: and the Social Security Administration.

Proposals are due July 18. Questions about the RFP should be submitted via e-mail to dir.fdca.pmo@census.gov by June 27. Answers to inquiries and any updates or amendments will be posted on the project's Web site.

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