Forest Service to issue customer service center RFP

The Forest Service seeks to develop a single call center to resolve information technology, radio and phone problems for its geographically dispersed offices. The agency has a help-desk center but wants an enterprise customer service center that can answer questions and fix problems on the first call.

The Forest Service, part of the Agriculture Department, plans to make a single blanket purchase agreement, which will have a duration of five years with an additional three months upfront for transition.

The request for proposals will be released Sept. 10. Proposals are due Oct. 12. The service anticipates awarding the contract in December.

The call center would resolve common and simple problems for agency employees. For tougher ones, the customer care operator would move the person through the internal help desk, Joan Golden, deputy chief information officer at the Forest Service, said in in a pre-proposal bidder's conference posted Aug. 20 on Federal Business Opportunities.

"We're looking at this being the first person that our customers will call, our internal end users," she said. "This is our face to the organization because we are a centralized organization in terms of our internal support."

The Forest Service is most known for managing federal lands and for its firefighting component, but the agency also provides incident response, such as cleanup after Hurricane Katrina and even space shuttle disasters, and tropical forestry research in Puerto Rico. The agency has offices in wilderness areas and large cities. The call center would provide customer care services for up to 45,000 employees.

The agency hardware and software still connect to a distributed computing environment, including network devices, such as laser printers, adaptive aids, Research in Motion Blackberrys, pocket PCs and some ruggedized equipment. The Forest Service currently uses primarily Unix-based servers in 150 locations but is migrating to Linux-based ones in two data centers. In addition, the agency is moving to Active Directory and consolidating its e-mail system by October 2008 under Microsoft.

Mary Mosquera writes for Government Computer News and Federal Computer Week, 1105 Government Information Group publications.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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