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GSA Wants a Feedback Machine to Help Agencies and the Public Navigate Policies

The General Services Administration’s central office for helping the rest of government comply with a bevy of federal policies is looking for an IT solution to improve how the program intakes, manages and responds to questions.

The Office of Governmentwide Policy, or OGP, “coordinates several activities for all federal agencies and is relied upon to provide accurate and prompt guidance,” according to a request for information published Monday seeking “a technical solution and cost estimate for a product that can manage route, and resolve inquiries from federal agencies and the public.”

While OGP does not set governmentwide policy—that is done at the administration level through the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Federal Procurement Policy—the office was created to help all federal agencies meet those standards.

The office maintains up-to-date policy guidance on acquisition management; personal and real property management; health, environment and work/life maintenance; travel, transportation and mail; information technology; regulatory information; and use of federal advisory committees.

Currently, OGP has a FAQ page, a question and feedback form and an email address for queries about travel policy: [email protected] But officials want to be able to do more, and want a streamlined, potentially automated system to handle questions.

“OGP seeks information about solutions that use existing or innovative material—e.g. existing policy guidance, FAQs, bulletins, staff expertise—to accept and resolve inquiries from federal staff and the general public,” the RFI reads. “Additionally, OGP is seeking information on a solution that is easily and intuitively accessible via the internet, solicits, accepts and organizes inquiries, provides relevant, useful information in response to inquiries, automatically escalates inquiries to OGP staff where appropriate, and ensures the accuracy of inquiry responses and available resources—e.g. FAQs—by obtaining and applying user feedback all within a valid user-centered design framework.”

Ideally, the solution set will give users an accessible, easy-to-use and -navigate platform for getting answers. Simultaneously, the solution should give OGP staff data on the kinds of questions being asked and user satisfaction with the responses being provided, all in an effort to continually improve the user experience.

The streamlined and automated nature of the platform should free up OGP staff from some of the more rote work, as well.

“This is an opportunity to provide meaningful feedback in the early stages of the market research and pre-solicitation process for OGP’s customer service solution,” officials said in the RFI. “Your thoughtful participation is encouraged.”

In the responses, GSA wants vendors to give “detailed description of the operation, maintenance and required technical support to operate and maintain the proposed solution,” as well as the cost “to develop, implement and maintain such a solution,” the RFI states. This description should also include “those functions that are included as-is—“out-of-the-box”—and which functions would require software customization.”

Along with a list of must-haves in the response, OGP also suggests some options information for vendors to provide, such as how the solution would deal with natural language, the avenues for collecting user feedback and how the system would determine the nature of more complex asks and route those to the appropriate staff.

Vendors should also be able to answer questions about the very policies covered under OGP, such as compliance with security standards like the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program, or FedRAMP, and accessibility requirements under Section 508 regulations.

Responses are due by noon on November 2.

source: NextGov