HHS re-ups Perot Systems for communications outreach

Perot Systems Corp. won a five-year, $16.1 million contract recompete to continue supplying communications outreach support for the Health and Human Services Department's Office on Women's Health.

The General Services Administration awarded the contract for the company to continue running an interactive women's heath Web site and providing staff to answer healthcare-related questions via a toll free number. Perot Systems won the first contract in 1998.

The women's health Web site provides free information on more than 800 topics, such as nutrition and physical activity, minority health, birth control, pregnancy and reproductive health, breastfeeding, mental health, and illnesses and disabilities. It also has statistics and publications issued by the National Women's Health Information Center, some of which are available in both Spanish and Chinese. Other tools are a toll-free hotline ((800) 994-9662), which also serves as the National Breastfeeding Helpline, and a TDD ((800) 220-5446). About 5,000 calls come in per month, said James Ballard, president of Perot Systems Government Services of Fairfax, Va.

Staffers who speak Spanish are available to answer questions on the phone, and a section of the Web site is Spanish. Perot Systems plans to create a separate Web address for Spanish-language information that will mirror the existing English-language site. There is also a men's health site in English.

Perot Systems has a team of less than 20 staffers, many with advanced degrees in health care, who staff the phone lines, research health information, write content for the Web site and design its tools and illustrations. They also attend health care conferences and are in touch with other women's health associations to get the latest information on pertinent issues for the Web Site, Ballard said.

"Everybody is looking for government to be more responsive," Ballard said. "You don't want to go some place and be put on hold and transferred 14 different places to get a piece of information.

"This is the epitome of what a citizen-centric government is going to look like when there's one-stop shopping," he said. "You don't have to go to 14 different places. You come to one place, whether to the Web site or the call center."

The staffers also research and write content for the Office on Women's Health's Web site for adolescent females, launched in 2004. Perot Systems plans to translate sections of the site into Spanish in the near future.

Perot Systems hosts the two Web sites and the call-center facility at its office in Fairfax. In August, the women's health Web site received more than 30.2 million hits, while the girls' health Web site got about 305,750, the company said.

As part of the new contract work, Perot Systems will continue to support the girls' health Web site, which promotes healthy behaviors and lifestyles for young women ages of 10 to 16. Topics include fitness, relationships, understanding body changes and dealing with social challenges.

The company is also researching and writing a women's health daybook, containing a calendar and women's health reference guide, which will be available for free as of Oct. 1. Orders can be placed through the women's health Web site or the call center. Perot Systems also plans to issue a comprehensive women's health guide for 2008.

"At the end of the day when somebody thinks about how they want their government to operate, whether it's at the state and local or federal level, this is the way you want it to operate," Ballard said.

Perot Systems of Plano, Texas, has more than 18,000 employees and had annual revenue of $2 billion in 2005. Its government services subsidiary, which provides consulting, technology-based solutions and program management support to the federal government, accounted for 14 percent of the company's total revenue last year. Perot Systems ranks No. 44 on Washington Technology's 2006 Top 100 list of the largest government IT contractors.

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