HUD Is Hunting for Vendors for the Next Phase of the Centers of Excellence

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The department plans to pursue six projects to improve its cloud adoption, customer experience, data analytics and customer contact centers.

The Housing and Urban Development Department is bringing on vendors to help the agency overhaul its customer service operations, drive cloud adoption and expand its use of data analytics.

HUD and the General Services Administration on Friday released draft solicitations for the second phase of the department’s Centers of Excellence program. The high-profile initiative offers agencies the opportunity to improve existing IT systems and lay the groundwork for new technologies with extra assistance from GSA and the White House.

HUD was the second agency selected to participate in the program, after the Agriculture Department. On Friday, GSA kicked off the third iteration of the program at the Office of Management and Budget.

In phase one of the HUD program, which began in September, government officials worked with industry to determine how to best address issues in key facets of the department’s IT infrastructure. In phase two, the agency will recruit vendors to implement those solutions. GSA expects the full program will be completed within the next 18 to 30 months, a spokesperson told Nextgov.

“We are excited to begin this next phase of our modernization efforts,” HUD Chief Operating Officer Ralph Gaines said in a statement. “We’re looking forward to seeing how these efforts will further transform the agency and make it more accountable to our customers.”

According to the announcement, HUD plans to pursue six projects covering four main categories of tech: cloud adoption, customer experience, data analytics and customer contact centers. Notably, the department didn’t issue solicitations for infrastructure optimization, one of the program’s five original focus areas, or cybersecurity, which officials had reportedly considered adding as a sixth center.

Under the cloud adoption category, HUD is looking for vendors to create web-based versions of some 951 paper forms, as well as a system that automatically migrates information from paper documents to a cloud-based data repository. Customers would have the option to submit forms either online or on paper, but the new tech would make it easier for HUD to collect and use the information, according to the solicitation.

The agency also issued a solicitation to consolidate and optimize its various contact center operations into a single organization called HUDCentral, which would manage live calls, text messages, chatbots and other communications services. The agency also plans to stand up an internal office to coordinate and oversee customer experience improvements across the department.

Officials also issued solicitations for three different efforts to improve HUD’s use of data analytics: establish a chief data officer to manage the department’s data strategy, create dashboards to promote data-driven decision-making and expand the suite of analytics tools available to HUD employees.

The public can submit feedback on the solicitations through May 31.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with comments from GSA.