Wang wins $3 million U.S. Courts contract

Wang Federal Inc. last week captured a $3 million contract with the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts to provide jury database services to district courts.

Under the five-year contract, Wang will create a central National Service Center to support the district courts. Potentially, all 94 district courts and more than 80 bankruptcy courts can buy services from Wang's contract. However, only 45 courts are expected to use the pact initially. Services to be provided include everything from compiling lists of potential jurors to sending out questionnaires and jury-duty summonses.

Before a court can select a jury, it must create a list of potential jurors, usually based mainly upon names it gets from voter registration lists and supplemented by names from motor vehicle registration lists.

This list - called a master jury wheel - usually is updated every four years, but some courts do it annually.

Wang will receive the data, compile the jury wheel and mail out a qualification questionnaire to those on the list. In some cases potential jurors also will receive a summons to report for jury duty along with the questionnaire. Most returned questionnaires will be sent back to Wang to be passed through an optical scanner and, based upon criteria provided by the courts, evaluated as to whether a person qualifies for duty. On some occasions, questionnaires are sent directly back to the court.

"Some courts will send information electronically, some on disk, some on hard copy and some handwritten," said Joann Swanson, project manager at the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

"It depends on who maintains the voter registration or motor vehicle lists." In some cases, Wang could receive as many as 40 lists for one district, she added.

This contract however, reduces the "labor-intensive" part of the process and centralizes services available to courts, Swanson said.

Previously, the district courts relied primarily on local pacts with vendors to create and maintain jury wheels. Qualification forms were sent out, and responses were keyed manually into a database.

"This is an effort to stabilize costs and take advantage of economies of scale. One district alone paid $100,000 per year for this service. We needed to get a handle on that," she said. "Optical scanning is the best benefit we're receiving through" this contract.

Wang must pass a certification test in the fall before going live with the system.

The contract is centrally funded, but courts can pay for services locally if they need to send out a specifically designed questionnaire.

Wang declined to comment on the award.

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