Sunday, August 21, 2011

1940 U.S. Census Request for Quote and Statement of Work is out

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has published a Request for Quotation (RFQ) and a Statement of Work (SOW) - along with several other documents - on the Federal Business Opportunities website for "Hosting and Providing Access to the 1940 Census."  It was released on 18 August 2011.

1)  The Request For Quotation (4 pages) has these salient points of interest to genealogists:

NARA is seeking a no-cost solution. 

NARA anticipates entering into a single no cost contract, but reserves the right to make multiple awards if in the best interest of the Government.

Proposals are due on 2 September 2011 in PDF or Microsoft Word format.

2)  The Statement of Work (14 pages) has these highlights:

The National Archives is preparing for the release of the records of the 1940 Census on April 2, 2012.

NARA has created digital images of the 1940 Census schedules and maps, to make the 1940 Census available in a more modern and efficient format for researcher access.  

NARA has completed the digitization effort and has produced 3.8 million JPEG images, comprised of 20 Terabytes of data, from 4,745 rolls of the 1940 Census microfilm. In addition NARA has created metadata for these images to allow searching at the Enumeration District level. NARA will provide the descriptive image metadata to the chosen Contractor within five days after the contract is awarded and the images no later than November 1, 2011...

Objectives:  (Section 2)

*  The objective of this Statement of Work (SOW) is to acquire, through a no-cost contract, managed hosting and free online access to the 1940 Census digital images when it is released to the public for the first time.

Managed hosting and online access includes providing the public with the ability to search and browse the descriptions and digital images of the 1940 Census, zoom and pan the images, download single or multiple images associated with each enumeration district, and share the images through social media tools, at no cost to the user

The contract period of performance is one year, with four one-year options for renewal.

Scope of Work (Section 3)

The Contractor shall provide online access to the 1940 Census (schedules and maps) and metadata to enable the public to search the approximately 325,000 enumeration district descriptions and browse the 3.8 million Census Population Schedule and Census map images that are associated with the descriptions at no cost to either the public or the Government.

Prior to April 2, 2012, the Contractor may only use the digital images of the 1940 Census schedules for work required as part of this project.

The Contractor may take no action to develop or create a name index or any other product prior to April 2, 2012. Starting on April 2, 2012 the Contractor may use the Census schedule images to create a name index, to host on its own web site, or to create other products.

The Census images (schedules and maps) are plain JPEG files. They are 8 bit/pixel gray scale images (256 shades of gray) and are approximately 7200 pixels x 5300 pixels +/- 200 pixels (there may be slight variations in size due to the cropping of each image). The file size is about 40 MB open and 4MB compressed.

Web Site Development (Section 4)

The 1940 Census web site shall be consistent with the branding on NARA’s web site,  The web site shall incorporate NARA and Census Bureau logos. (4.2.2)

The search interface and search result displays may not include advertising but may include a link to the Contractor’s web site. Neither the Contractor's logo nor tagline may appear on the web site. (4.2.4)

Design the web site so it can be indexed by external search engines. (4.2.7)

Design the web site so it is browser independent. (4.2.8)

Provide a means for users to bookmark images and share Census images using social media widgets. (4.2.9)

The Contractor shall make the site available for public use on April 2, 2011 at 9:00 am (Eastern time). The Contractor shall coordinate the launch of the site with NARA. (4.2.18)

Enable users to download each 1940 Census image to their computing device (e.g. laptop, tablet or workstation). (4.3.10)

Provide an option for users to download Census images by Enumeration District. The average number of schedule images per description is 23 and the maximum number of schedule images per description is 437. NARA anticipates that users will want the ability to download the images associated with a particular enumeration district. (4.3.11)

Support up to 10 million hits per day, while providing response times of less than three seconds for keyword searches of the descriptive metadata. A hit is defined as a request for a file from the web server.   (4.4.1)

Support up to 25,000 concurrent users.   (4.4.2)

Scale on demand in the event that 10 million hits and/or 25,000 concurrent users are exceeded to ensure that the performance requirements are still achieved. (4.4.3)

NARA anticipates that demand for access to the 1940 Census images will decrease over time. If demand decreases to a level which NARA can support on its own web site, the Contractor shall assist NARA in transitioning from the 1940 Census web site to NARA Online Public Access system. (4.5.1)

NARA Sales to the Public (Section 9)

Beginning April 2, 2012, the National Archives Trust Fund will offer the complete Census (schedules, maps, ED descriptions and associated metadata) and individual states for sale in digital format and on microfilm.

3)  Summary

There is, of course, much more information in the RFQ, SOW and other documents.  Please read all of the documents because I may have missed important items in my summary above. 

I will have commentary on this in a later post.  I hope that readers will provide their commentary as well.  We might want to create a list of questions and answers for the genealogical community. 


Taco said...

"The Contractor may take no action to develop or create a name index or any other product prior to April 2, 2012." Good. I don't want them to make it too easy to find the people I'm looking for. Half the fun is in the search itself. If it's just a question of typing a name and then being redirected to the correct image, it just doesn't give the same satisfaction :)

Also, it doesn't state anywhere that there are geographical restrictions, meaning access won't be limited to US.

Unknown said...

I wonder how Ancestry's announcement last week regarding the availability of the 1940 census free on their site tie sinto this. It appears that NARA wants to keep access at no cost forever, but Ancestry is only offering it for free for a limited time.

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