GPO fast tracks FDSys project

The Government Printing Office is setting an aggressive timetable for its massive project to digitize nearly every federal document published since the birth of the nation.

At an industry day Thursday, GPO officials said they anticipate issuing a solicitation for a master integrator for its Future Digital Content System (FDSys) in December, with a contract award being awarded Feb. 22, 2006.

The winner of the estimated $29 million contract will be responsible for putting together a system that will place almost all government documents — starting with the 1787 Federalist Papers — online in digitized format by July 2007.

“We are looking at how we will accomplish our mission and how we will build a platform for doing this [while] remaining flexible for the future,” GPO chief executive and public printer Bruce James said.

GPO outlined the initial plans for the new FDSys in December 2004, and detailed how it will transform the way it collects, authenticates, stores and shares federal documents.

The agency held the industry day to discuss its tight deadlines and receive input as to whether the time frame — starting with the first deliverable due in July 2006—is too ambitious. Company representatives in the audience — including those from firms such as Lockheed Martin Corp., Harris Corp. of Melbourne, Fla., and Hewlett-Packard Co. — will give their thoughts on the timeline and, if necessary, the dates might be adjusted, GPO chief technology officer Mike Wash said.

Under the current plan, the system will be phased in starting in July 2006, when it will reach core functionality. In January 2007, the system will be expanded, and FDSys should be completely operational in July 2007.

The master integrator will develop the system and train GPO employees so it can be turned over to government control. “We see the master integrator operating the system through the development process, but then GPO will be given the keys,” Wash said.

GPO will also issue contracts for certain functions of the FDSys, such as search, content management, content preservation, delivery, submission, infrastructure and access. The master integrator will work with the other suppliers and “glue” the system together, Stovall said.

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