Census Bureau will count on EDS to run telephone network in 2000

The Census Bureau has taken the first step in preparing for the onslaught of telephone
calls it will receive from people with questions about the 2000 Decennial Census.


The bureau recently awarded the two-year, $100 million Telephone Questionnaire
Assistance contract to Electronic Data Systems Corp.


EDS and eight subcontractors will build and run a multilanguage telephone assistance
network supporting 30 call centers across the country. EDS will supply the staff members
for the centers.


“It is going to be a major challenge to handle 9 million to 11 million phone calls
in a short time,” said Ed Wagner, Census’ total quality management program
manager.


“We wanted to contract an integrator to handle this volume,” Wagner said.


Census chose EDS because of its technical experience, specifically in integration,
Wagner said. The company has also had outstanding past-performance reviews, he said.


EDS will test the 6,500-workstation network in October. The company plans to use a call
routing product from GeoTel Communications Corp. of Lowell, Mass.


“As calls come in, the software will route calls to available centers and customer
service representatives,” said Shawn Donovan, director of business development for
EDS’ government industry group in Herndon, Va.


EDS also plans to distribute software and troubleshoot the network via the Internet.
The company will not have to go site to site to fix problems, Donovan said.


From March to July 2000, the network will handle an estimated 11 million incoming calls
and initiate another 4.5 million to resolve discrepancies or obtain information missing on
census forms.


The call centers will at their peak employ about 6,000 people.


Besides GeoTel, EDS’ subcontractors are: AFFINA Corp. of Peoria, Ill.; APAC
TeleServices Inc. of Deerfield, Ill.; Call Interactive of Omaha, Neb.; Centrobe Inc. of
Denver; Precision Response Corp. of Miami; TelTech Holdings Inc. of Denver, and West
TeleServices Corp of Omaha.


“Putting the team together was the most difficult part because they are all
competitors,” Donovan said. 


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