Census plans $1.3B in contracts

DRIS information

The Census Bureau is gearing up to award two contracts, worth a total of about $1.3 billion, for work that will automate much of the work for the 2010 census.

Officials said today that the contracts will be awarded in Oct. 2005, kicking off a five-year effort to create systems that will be used for the six-week process of collecting Census data.

The contracts will be for the Decentennial Response Integration System, which will take in and manage the census data, and the Field Data Collection Automation contract, which will create systems for census-takers to use in gathering the information, said Mike Palensky, the bureau's chief of acquisition.

The contractors who work on the integration system will be responsible for developing, building, testing, deploying, installing, operating, maintaining and securing the computer systems and facilities needed to capture and use the census data, he said.

Officials expect to release requests for proposals on both contracts in February, said Palensky, speaking to an audience at FedFocus 2005, Input's market outlook conference.

The data collection contract will require contractors to develop systems for workers to take with them to gather information from citizens and track their own payroll and expense information, he said.

"We're risk averse," Palensky said. "I'm not sure we want 'bleeding edge' technology. We want leading edge technology that's been proven."

Census officials start planning early because the date by which the Census has to be completed is fixed by law. "We can't miss that date," Palensky said.

Also at Input:

* The Homeland Security Department has started hiring staff for its Information Technology Acquisition Center, said Dan Laughlin, acting ITAC director. Agency officials are working on developing and implementing governance structures and detailed acquisition plans for the department's services and commodity contract vehicles.

* Stan Soloway, president of the Professional Services Council, said the outcome of the Nov. 2 election likely will have some significant effects on only a few services procurement projects.

Under a John Kerry administration, Soloway said, President Bush's competitive sourcing initiative would probably lose its familiar name. "But it will be there in some form," he said. Under a second Bush term, little would likely change.

"The market is going where it's going based on realities far, far outside the political spectrum," he said.

* Steve Kelman, a professor in Harvard University's Kenneday School of Government and columnist for Federal Computer Week, said that ongoing efforts in the General Services Administration and the Defense Department to make sure that contract use goes by the book will continue through 2005.

"There clearly have been some self-inflicted wounds," he said, referring to recent high-profile cases of misused contracts and less widely reported issues such as the abuse of government purchase cards.

The Input conference was focused on identifying business opportunities in fiscal 2005.

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