GPO's revolution is right on time with new RFP

The Government Printing Office is moving forward with a system that will transform the way the agency distributes government information.

Yesterday, GPO posted a request for proposals for a vendor that can build an electronic distribution infrastructure for disseminating government publications.

GPO's transformation from a 19th-century printing press operation to a 21st-century electronic information agency demands a new publishing and distribution model, which agency officials refer to as the Future Digital System.

GPO delayed the scheduled release of the RFP last December, issuing a draft instead. Vendors had requested more time to analyze the agency’s requirements. During the wait, GPO officials held an industry day at headquarters, during which they answered questions and heard comments in person. About15 vendors responded to the draft RFP.

The result is a 520-page final RFP that details a plan to distribute the system in three phases, with basic operations completed by July 2007 and enhancements finished by July 2008.

The RFP allows vendors 30 days to respond, after which an extensive evaluation of the submissions will begin. Officials said they hope to award a contract to a company, which they will call the master integrator, this summer.

“The work that has been completed to compile a comprehensive list of system requirements has been a significant accomplishment and the work will prove to be pivotal as we move forward in developing and deploying the Future Digital System with the master integrator," Mike Wash, GPO’s chief technical officer, said today.

The agency wants to hire a company to create an architecture that will verify and track all versions of official government documents. Officials said the system's design would ensure the authenticity of government information and provide permanent public access to it.

The information life cycle management system is divided into six clusters: content management, preservation, access, delivery, submission and infrastructure.

The government intends to issue a cost-plus-award-fee contract for labor, support and transition to operations. The integrator that is chosen will work with a GPO team to complete the project.

The master integrator “shall make all decisions as to system design, integration of various components, technology and applications that support [Future Digital System] functional clusters and the [integrator] shall be solely responsible for meeting all the requirements,” the RFP states. “GPO shall, however, have the right to override any of the [integrator’s] decisions as to these matters. If so, then the [integrator] may document in writing its objections and may be relieved of responsibility for the failure of the delivered system to meet any requirement caused by the GPO override of the [integrator’s] decision.”

The digital system will adopt the Open Archival Information System reference model, a domain neutral framework that can manage information, regardless of format, over time. This type of open model is crucial to preserving and maintaining access to digital information, according to the RFP.

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