GPO readying draft RFP for digital storage system

The Government Printing Office is finalizing a solicitation for a chief contractor that will do the heavy lifting for the agency's massive data storage modernization project.

Mike Wash, GPO's chief technology officer, could not estimate when the draft request for proposals will be released, but said his agency is "putting the finishing touches" on the preliminary RFP for its Future Digital Information System (FDsys) project and that it will be available soon.

FDsys will digitize nearly every federal document published since the birth of the nation, starting with the 1787 Federalist Papers, transforming the way GPO collects, authenticates, stores and shares federal documents.

GPO hopes to issue a final RFP for a master integrator for the new system next month and award a $29 million contract by Feb. 22, 2006. The master integrator will be responsible for putting together a system that will place almost all government documents online in digitized format by July 2007.

But before the final version is released, Wash said GPO decided to offer a draft RFP so prospective vendors can comment on it.

The decision to issue a draft RFP comes as the agency said it is seeking a Web harvesting tool that will later be integrated into FDsys.

In a recent presolicitation notice, GPO asked industry for tools the agency could use that will search federal Web sites for information relevant for FDsys.

Wash said Web harvesting is a crucial aspect of FDsys because GPO needs a tool that can troll different Web sites and bring items that are within the agency's scope so they can be permanently accessible. "The tool would have to be more than a basic [Web] crawler," Wash added.

The presolicitation notice allows GPO to try different harvesting tools and determine whether a product exists that can perform this function or if something needs to be developed, Wash said. "What this is all about is the evaluation of the tools that vendors can put forth," he said.

Rob Thormeyer is a writer for Washington Technology's sister publication, Government Computer News.

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