GPO awards contract for Future Digital System

Originally posted at 9:35 a.m.; updated at 4:10 p.m.

(UPDATED) The Government Printing Office's vision for creating a state-of-the-art access platform to federal information is one step closer.

GPO today announced that Harris Corp. will build the Future Digital System under a two-year, $29 million contract. Including option periods, the contract could last 54 months, said Mike Wash, GPO's chief technical officer.

The agency said it expects to implement the initial stage of FDsys in 2007, which includes the system's core functionality, including the ability to receive digital information and provide search and retrieval information to the public.

Harris of Melbourne, Fla., will be responsible for the heavy lifting on FDsys, which will transform the way GPO collects, authenticates, stores and shares federal documents. Under the project, it expects to digitize nearly every federal document published since the birth of the nation, starting with the 1787 Federalist Papers. Harris' sole partner is Progressive Technologies Federal Systems Inc. of Bethesda, Md., which does work for GPO's Integrated Library System.

Eventually, the public will be able to search, view, download and print documents through a Web portal. GPO said the types of content that will be available include text, graphics, video, audio and other forms as they emerge. Wash said the project's other two phases include improved search capabilities and preservation techniques.

GPO released the request for proposals in April.

Harris beat out five other vendors by submitting a number of options using commercial technologies GPO could pick , and then determining the cost for all the options.

Karen Knockel, Harris' program manager, said they submitted a number of possible scenarios, provided GPO with the pros and cons of each of them, and used their experience building the prototype from the National Archives and Records Administration's Electronic Records Archive project. Harris was beaten out by Lockheed Martin in the one-year 'bake-off.'

Wash said Harris' effort with GPO will be as much about collaboration as it will be about the vendor developing a system.

'The question is whether GPO wants to go with a pre-integrated suite, such as one from Documentum, IBM or Oracle, or a number of small products and we and them do the integration ourselves,' Knockel said. 'We look forward to working with GPO to determine what is the best way to do this.'

Wash said the RFP and award were made on an aggressive schedul, and GPO will continue down that path to get the initial operating capability up and running.

'GPO is expected to provide immediate access to information, once Congress or an agency says, 'Please publish,' ' he said. 'GPO's official publications of government need to be preserved in perpetuity, and this system will help us do that.'

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