GSA Introducing Options to Help Automate Agency Contact Centers

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A new special item number for Automated Contact Center Services is being added with the IT Schedule 70 refresh.

Come the new fiscal year, agencies will have access to a set of automated contact center technologies and services through a new special item number on the General Services Administration’s IT Schedule 70.

The Automated Contact Center Solutions SIN—numbered 132-20—“provides a deep pool of pre-vetted vendors with a diverse set of contact center solutions,” according to a notice on GSA’s Interact site.

The special category will include vendors offering the latest in automation technology, including artificial intelligence, chatbots, voice and speech recognition, text-to-speech and more.

Managing citizen engagement through the various lines of contact—phone, email, web portals and in-person meetings—if a difficult task. GSA’s own Federal Acquisition Service receives close to 1 million calls a year, according to CenturyLink, which holds a $1.3 million contract to manage the service’s contact center.

The Internal Revenue Service fields calls from some 116 million taxpayers a year, costing the agency approximately $41 per call. In-person visits cost the IRS about $67 per visit.

“One of our goals for digital transformation is to identify those high-volume, low-complexity tasks and move them from traditional channels such as the phone line or in person and move them online,” Michael Lin, IRS chief of user experience and design, said during a Government Executive event in February. “It’s massive savings.”

The administration’s IT modernization leads have noticed this need as well establishing contact centers as one of five priority areas for the White House’s IT Modernization Centers of Excellence. The move put contact center modernization at the same level as cloud adoption, infrastructure optimization, customer experience and data analytics.

GSA has been working on the SIN for almost a year and intends to officially establish the category on Oct. 1 as part of the IT Schedule 70 refresh. Agency officials are holding an informational webinar Friday.