HHS/ACF/OHS Head Start Information and Communication Center (HSICC)
Department of Health and Human Services, Program Support Center | Published March 7, 2017
The Department of Health and Human Services intends to negotiate a contract with Trans Management Systems Corporation located in Washington, DC on a sole source basis for the Administration of Children and Families (ACF)/Office of Head Start (OHS) for Head Start Information and Communication Center (HSICC). The acquisition is for an interim contract for a 12-month period. This interim contract is crucial to give the Government time to complete a competitive procurement.
The Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Office of Head Start (OHS) is the national agency responsible for awarding funding, developing and enforcing policies, and providing technical assistance and oversight to ensure that Head Start programs deliver high quality services that prepare low income and vulnerable children and families for success in school and in life. As a federal-to-local program, OHS delivers a high volume of communications that cover a wide range of regulations, policies and technical assistance to oversee and support the success of grantee agencies.
The purpose of this acquisition is to provide and mature specialized services in information communications for OHS and to conduct, if necessary, transition activities. The OHS requires the Head Start Information and Communication Center (HSICC) to manage communications with the Head Start and early childhood community through the provision of an expert contact center, the ongoing development and maturation of the Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center (ECLKC) website, maturation and moderation of the ACF/OHS website, and the provision of mass communications services including social media and mass emailing.
Head Start programs enhance the multi-faceted development of enrolled children through the provision of educational, health, nutritional, social and other services. Since its beginning in 1965, Head Start has served more than 33 million children and their families. Head Start, in FY 2016, provided over a million children with services to support their early learning, health, and family well-being. Head Start programs engage parents in their children's learning and help them in making progress toward their educational, literacy and employment goals. The Head Start Program also emphasizes the significant involvement of parents in the administration of local Head Start programs. The legislative authority for this acquisition, and the Head Start program generally, is the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007 (U.S. Code Citation: 42 USC 9801 et seq.).
The Department of Health and Human Services, through OHS, provides grants to local public and private non-profit and for-profit agencies to provide Head Start and Early Head Start services to economically disadvantaged children and families. There are over 1,600 Head Start grantees, ranging from small agencies with little organizational capacity serving less than 100 children, to large agencies with complex staffs serving tens of thousands of children. A number of grantees also have delegate agencies which provide all or part of the required comprehensive services.
Through the HSICC, OHS provides critical policy, guidance and technical assistance information to Head Start programs, prospective parents, the early childhood community, and the general public. Since the early 1990's, OHS has contracted with small businesses who understand the workings of Head Start and federal communication requirements to continuously inform the field of the latest advances in early childhood policy and practice through the lens of Head Start, as well as maintain close linkages to the programs and to the federal staff that support them.
The OHS currently operates the HSICC through the services of a contractor. Currently HSICC includes a customer service center that receives and responds to inquiries via phone, email, and web; two primary websites - the ECLKC (http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov) and the OHS/ACF website (http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ohs); mass emailing service for Head Start program staff and other interested parties; several @headstartgov social media accounts; and a NewsWatch service, all of which is supported by a team of experts in various Head Start topics.
Customer Service Center
The customer service center receives and responds to 1,500 to 4,000 inquiries per year from the public, early childhood professionals, the Head Start community, and OHS/Federal staff. The customer service center staffs a call center that receives about 25,000 calls per year, and also responds to inquiries via email, web, and mobile application. The most frequently requested services are from families and parents seeking programs that will meet their unique needs. Approximately one third of these inquiries are from Spanish speaking users. Customer service representatives respond with information from a knowledge base, the ECLKC website, or submit the inquiry to OHS staff. Tier two support is available from the expert knowledge team, or for technical issues, members of the infrastructure and hosting contract team. Tracking software is used to manage the volume, nature and languages of inquiries, which subsequently informs OHS leadership, the development of training and technical assistance resources, and other ECLKC content.
Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center (ECLKC) Website
The Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center (ECLKC) website presents information about Head Start, its policies, and technical assistance on early childhood development to agencies that provide Head Start services, child care providers, members of congress, the press, and other members of the public. The ECLKC currently receives over 2 million visits per year, approximately 1/4 on mobile devices, providing a means to find and connect knowledge across programs, regions and states and offers different methods of accessing on-line learning and training. Numerous federal and contract staff contribute to the content, including six large national centers, each with specific areas of expertise. The expert knowledge team works with the contributing partners and technical liaisons to assure content is created, maintained, archived and deleted according to OHS and HHS quality requirements. As a team they also create an information architecture that delivers content to the broadest audience in intuitive and practical ways. The full contents of the website are available in high quality Spanish, translated according to a Head Start glossary of terms maintained through the services of this contract.
The ECLKC hosts over 8,600 pages with many file formats including .pdf documents, .MP4 videos, and interactive online lessons. It is based on a Drupal 8 content management platform with numerous linked databases and directories, and supported by link checkers, web analytics, taxonomy management, and a robust search engine. The site meets all HHS technical requirements, including the use of plain language, and accessibility to people with disabilities. The ECLKC also contains a publicly accessible archive, and private communities with members varying from ten to one thousand. An image library allows OHS staff to access thousands of Head Start photos.
A mobile application (app) delivers policies and regulations, as well as popular technical assistance resources, and Head Start location information to mobile devices through feeds from the website infrastructure.
The ACF/OHS website (acf.hhs.gov/ohs) is maintained by ACF's Office of Communications. This website is the top ranking result for public searches about Head Start. OHS targets the information on this site primarily to the general public, the media, and prospective grantees. Information on this site is tightly coordinated and linked to information on the ECLKC website.
A high volume email service reaches tens of thousands of recipients on a daily basis, through targeted use of over 20 large email lists. The in-house staff with Head Start expert knowledge works with the content creators, using marketing principles and web analytics to produce high value emails that produce desired responses from recipients.
The official social media platforms for Head Start, including Twitter and Facebook, nurture engaged communities of Head Start staff, parents and supporters, providing them with useful information from Head Start resources, research, and other trustworthy sources.
A closed social media platform, MyPeers, is also supported by OHS. This is a vibrant community of over 5,000 Head Start and early education professionals sharing best practices, lessons learned, and core knowledge, as well as accessing direct support from peer to peer collaboration.
Webinars and Webcasts from the Office of Head Start reach audiences of up to 2,500 participants at a time. About 30 webinars and webcasts annually support major policy or resource releases, and trainings for various audiences.
A daily compilation of internet news across the nation based on multiple search criteria including the names of all grantee agencies and Head Start related terms informs OHS of local best practices, activities and potential areas of concern. This easy-to-navigate compilation is mailed by OHS to all OHS staff every work day.
Master librarians monitor professional literature, reports and journals for new resources, assess whether new regulations and federal register postings affect the Head Start community, and assess emerging issues and trends in early childhood service provision.
TasksTask 1. Head Start Customer Services
• Receive and respond to up to 50,000 contacts per year in English and Spanish• Inquiries and complaints are communicated through various methods including phone, email, and ECLKC "Contact Us" inquiries, mobile app, and other methods proposed and approved by OHS. • Staff and support call center operations for OHS• Tracking software must be used to manage the volume, nature and languages of inquiries to inform OHS, and inform the development of training, technical assistance and ECLKC content. Inquiries and responses must be available in web- based library format to the OHS and to other National Centers to ensure consistency and continuity of message across all OHS assets.
Task 2. Head Start Websites
• Responsible for the management, maintenance, ongoing maturation and enhancement of the OHS websites:o ACF/OHS, http://www.acf.hhs.gov/ ohs/ o The ECLKC, http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov • Records Management and Archive• Head Start Apps• Private communitiesTask 3. Hardware and Software - Applications and Platform Management
The contractor shall manage, maintain and mature the hardware and software of:• ECLKC• Archive,• Apps• Private communitiesAll technology solutions shall be fully transitioned to open source solutions or solutions that are commercially available with minimal need for customization by the end of the contract period.
Task 4. Mass Communications Services
The contractor shall manage and extend mass communication and marketing services that allow Head Start messages to reach thousands of existing users, and to extend Head Start materials to new users.
• Mass emailing services -manage and extend numerous large email lists reaching tens of thousands of recipients and provide well targeted, high-volume email services on a daily basis sending up to 60 mass email communications a month on behalf of OHS• Head Start social media - responsible for the day-to-day management of the OHS social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, and other potential outlets as they become available. • Support a closed social media platform, MyPeers, for Head Start and early education professionals to share best practices, lessons learned, and core knowledge, as well as accessing direct support from peer to peer collaboration. This platform will enable open communities as well as closed workgroups to collaborate by sharing messages, files, calendars, questions and wikis.• Head Start Webinars and webcasts - support webinars and webcasts from the Office of Head Start to reach audiences of up to 2,500 participants at a time.• Identify/Recommend new technologies for mass communications
Task 5. NewsWatch Service
The contractor shall provide a daily compilation of all news across the web related to Head Start and its grantees informing OHS of local best practices, activities and potential areas of concern relevant to the Head Start and the early childhood community. The contractor will also monitor professional literature, reports and journals for new resources, and assess emerging issues and trends in early childhood service provision for inclusion.
Task 6. Head Start Expert Knowledge
The contractor shall provide in-house staff with Head Start expert knowledge to inform the call center, mass communications services, and the websites. This knowledge shall include specialized expertise in content areas such as early childhood development, teaching and learning, cultural and linguistic diversity, infant and toddler needs, early childhood and family health (including oral, nutritional, dental and mental), family and community engagement, program management and fiscal operations of Head Start and Early Head Start programs, and state systems for early childhood. Experts shall apply their understanding to the various services of the Center, particularly in relation to the taxonomy and organization of the website, and marketing of existing resources. These experts shall serve as liaisons to the National Centers, OHS, and its designees to facilitate the effective and timely design and posting of content.
Task 7. User Feedback and Analysis
Develop and implement surveys of system users regarding service and product satisfaction and impact, including the customer service center.
Task 8. Project Management, Work Plan, and Project ReportsThe contractor proposed is currently providing OHS the services described above. The contractor has managed this large operation for more than five years and has the necessary staffing and capacity currently in place to continue necessary services while the follow-on contract is compete.
OHS carefully analyzed the current services to determine whether the current work could be accomplished through another method. The analysis indicated that the current contractor is uniquely knowledgeable and staffed to provide interim services in the specific areas identified. Transitioning to a new contractor for interim support will result in a lapse in service and unacceptable risk to the Head Start program.
Trans Management Systems Corporation is the only responsible source capable of operating the Head Start Information and Communications Center and no other services will satisfy agency requirements. This is due to the ongoing transition of the ECLKC website and associated web services from the proprietary content management system, Hyperwave, to a popular open source solution, Drupal and other commercially available solutions with minimal need for customization.
The ECLKC website was developed and launched in 2006 on the Hyperwave platform, which offered the features and flexibility the Office of Head Start needed. This platform has been extensively customized for the information needs of the Office of Head Start. Trans Management Systems Corporation and its partners have experience in managing the Hyperwave platform and an understanding of the needs of Head Start community. In the last contract period, following the direction of OMB to use open source content management systems, Trans Management Systems Corporation transitioned the public ECLKC website to the Drupal platform.
While the public face of the ECLKC website will be transitioned to the Drupal platform by March 2017, the end of the current contract period, many applications and technical solutions for both the website and other HSICC services will still be in transition from Hyperwave technology to open source solutions, or commercially available solutions with minimal need for customization. This includes the Central Authentication Service for tools that have individualized features and permissions associated with logging into the platform, the micro-service delivery, database back applications, logs, databases associated with the help desk, and integrations with the Head Start Enterprise System.
Under this acquisition, Trans Management Systems Corporation as the prime contractor will finish migration of these dependencies to various acceptable solutions, while maintaining all of the other tasks associated with the HSICC. As the primary receiver of Head Start complaints from the public, disseminator of technical assistance documents, organizer of networking solutions, and liaison with parents looking for programs, it is vital that all of the HSICC tasks continue without interruption.
The statutory authority for other than full and open competition is 41 U.S.C. 3304(a)(1), in accordance with FAR Part 6.302-1, only one responsible source and no other supplies or services will satisfy agency requirements.
Vendors interested in this acquisition must demonstrate in writing they can meet the Government's requirement. Responses must include a written narrative statement of capability, including detailed technical information and other technical literature demonstrating the ability to satisfy the stated requirements. The written statements of capability (no more than 20 pages in length) should be emailed to the Contract Specialist, Ryan Collins, at firstname.lastname@example.org and are due no later than 5:00 p.m. (ET) on March 22, 2017. Failure to submit adequate documentation will result in the Government proceeding with a sole source award to Trans Management Systems Corporation. A determination by the Government not to open the requirement based upon responses to this notice is solely within the discretion of the Government. No solicitation document is available. The purpose of this announcement is to determine whether there may be other sources with the requisite qualifications to perform the work described above.