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U.S. Department of State e-Reader Initiative

Solicitation Number: SAQMMA12I0014
Agency: Department of State
Office: Office of Acquisitions
Location: Acquisition Management
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Sources Sought
Added: Aug 17, 2012 6:53 pm

This is a Sources Sought/Request for Information (RFI) announcement only. This is not a solicitation and in no way commits the Government to award a contract. Furthermore, the receipt of this RFI and or submission of a response confer no rights upon the vendor nor obligate the Government in any manner.

The Department of State's (DoS) Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP) is performing market research to determine industry interest and capabilities for delivering e-reader devices meeting key technical specifications, central content management, and related worldwide deployment logistics.

This RFI is organized into the following sections:
1. Background
2. Objective
3. Supply and Service Requirements
4. Instructions
5. Questions
6. Closing Date
7. Disclaimer

The mission of American public diplomacy is to support the achievement of U.S. foreign policy goals and objectives, advance national interests, and enhance national security by informing and influencing foreign publics and by expanding and strengthening the relationship between the people and government of the United States and the world's citizens. Public diplomacy programs transcend policy dissemination to talk to international audiences in sustained and meaningful conversations about the spectrum of U.S. policy objectives and American culture, values and history.

As part of our public diplomacy mission, the DoS disseminates a wide variety of content to foreign citizens via our global network of embassies, consulates, American Spaces, and other venues. Historically, the DoS has disseminated this content via a traditional hardcopy print and ship model. Over the past decade, the DoS has produced, procured and/or curated increasing amounts of digital content to meet the changing consumption patterns of citizens around the world. As citizens increasingly receive news and information via digital platforms it is imperative that the DoS continue to evolve its content distribution infrastructure. As part of our efforts to continually improve, develop and deploy the most efficient and cost-effective communications platforms, the DoS seeks to explore the rapidly evolving and increasingly influential digital media field that audiences around the world today use to communicate and receive information.


To support its digital content operations, the DoS requires a vendor to provide e-reader devices and a secure, comprehensive and continuous content management and distribution platform. This platform must provide the ability to centrally manage, procure, and wirelessly distribute USG and 3rd party content across a multitude of devices located in over 190 countries. The platform must support the registration of new devices as well as provide continuing support for existing DoS devices, which number over 6,000. The more than 6,000 existing devices include multiple Amazon Kindle models, multiple Apple iPad models, and a variety of Android devices currently in use at over 800 embassies, consulates, American Spaces and schools overseas. This content management and distribution platform aims to substantially decrease content delivery times, improve the efficiency of content distribution, availability, and reliability. Increased use of digital content and associated distribution platforms will also enhance the DoS's ability to move toward secure cloud-based storage of content and support the DoS's Greening Diplomacy Initiative to reduce its carbon footprint.


Content Distribution

1. The vendor must provide a cloud-based secure distribution and management platform to centrally manage content across a variety and limitless number of e-readers and tablet devices located in over 190 countries, including those already in use at the DoS (e.g., multiple Amazon Kindle models, multiple Apple iPad models, a variety of Android devices, PC and Mac computers).

2. The vendor must provide 3G services to download content globally, including all costs associated with content delivery via 3G services globally.

3. The vendor must provide a large and comprehensive public-facing, online bookstore of third party content.

4. The vendor must provide an exclusive, private, cloud-based document repository from which the DoS can distribute material via 3G or Wi-Fi to the locations listed in the attachment entitled "Deployment Locations".

5. When third-party content providers have granted the vendor the right to distribute their content at a specific price to the DoS, the vendor shall distribute that content to DoS at said price via 3G or Wi-Fi to the locations listed in the attachment entitled "Deployment Locations". The vendor should also reduce its commission charged to the third party content providers by an equitable percentage.

6. All content purchased from or hosted by the vendor (excludes content provided under license only) becomes the property of the DoS. Upon completion of the contract, all content remains the property of the DoS.

Content Requirements

1. U.S. Government (USG)-published materials as well as third-party content must be disseminated by the vendor to all or any number of the supported devices as requested by the DoS so that overseas Missions will be provided with efficient, effective, instant access to all USG content along with the latest updates.

2. All audio and video files, both USG-produced and third-party materials, must be downloadable to the device via 3G and/or Wi-Fi, located in the United States and overseas.

3. The vendor must wirelessly disseminate content to the DoS's existing devices, including Amazon Kindles, Apple iOS, Android, PC, and MAC.

4. The vendor must provide the ability for DoS locations to electronically select and purchase additional content from a public-facing online bookstore.

Content Management

1. The vendor must provide centralized content purchases, management and dissemination for all numbers of or subsets of DoS devices (e.g., Apple iOS, Android, Amazon Kindle, PC, and MAC) deployed around the world.

2. The vendor must provide centrally managed content delivery and disable certain standard features on all or some of the devices, to be determined by the DoS, such as individual purchasing ability, access to a web browser, etc.

3. The vendor must provide a dedicated 24/7 help desk to support inquires from DoS embassies, American Spaces and its partner organizations located in countries specified in the attachment entitled "Deployment Locations".

4. The vendor must push content via 3G or Wi-Fi as often as specified by the DoS (hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, and/or quarterly).

5. The vendor must provide raw data on how content is accessed on the e-readers. The information should include data such as content accessed, content not accessed, length of time that content is viewed, e-reader features used and content downloaded for each device. The format for reporting will be developed with and approved by the DoS but must include reporting by country and e-reader serial number.

6. The vendor must provide support in the installation and use of user surveys, delivered via 3G, Wi-Fi and direct connection where 3G and Wi-Fi is not available. This support shall be provided whether the surveys are vendor-proprietary or third-party. The vendor will advise on the appropriate format and timing of surveys. The format for reporting will be developed with and approved by the DoS, but must include reporting by country and e-reader serial number.

7. In order to provide timely and comprehensive data on the e-reader program and accommodate new programming, the vendor must ensure that there is sufficient staff support to develop surveys to be used on the e-reader, loss and breakage reporting, and the purchase and download of content, including raw data.


1. The vendor shall deliver devices meeting the following specifications: must provide at least a 6" diagonal display; must hold up to 1,400 books or have at least 2GB of internal memory; must be accessible to public and private Wi-Fi networks or hotspots that use the 802.11b, 802.11g, or 802.11n standard with support for WEP, WPA and WPA2 security using password authentication or Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS); must not connect to WPA and WPA2 secured networks using 802.1X authentication methods; must not connect to ad-hoc (or peer-to-peer) Wi-Fi networks; and must include a front light feature or include backlight technology.

2. The vendor shall deliver the latest generation devices that have audio and video capabilities and include 3G and Wi-Fi services.

3. The device shall support an internet browser that is connected to Wi-Fi and/or 3G to support the countries listed in the attachment entitled "Deployment Locations".

4. The device shall have a text-to-speech capability in English so that users are able to listen to content on the device.

5. The device shall be light, compact, portable, durable with reinforced screens, and have extended battery life. Preferred specifications: weight equal to or less than 15 ounces, and approximate dimensions of 8" by 5" by 0.5". The battery life shall be no less than 8 hours of continuous reading or 7.5 hours of video playback.

6. The device shall have an organizing feature to sort the content into collections identified by the DoS.

7. The device shall have a built-in and integrated English language dictionary.

8. The device shall support the display of foreign language script and texts.

9. The device must support audio (e.g., podcasts,, MP3 files, etc.) and it is preferred that the device support video (e.g., MPG, MOV, WMV, RM, etc.)

10. The device shall support the display of a variety of file formats, including PDF, TXT, MOBI, PRC, HTML, DOC(X), JPEG, PNG, GIF, and BMP.

11. Devices shall be supplied with the appropriate country or region specific power adapter.

12. The device shall provide content sharing across devices (IOS, Android, PC, and MAC).

13. The device shall have an available large font size to meet user needs.

14. The vendor shall provide a protective cover with each device.

15. The vendor shall be responsible for upgrading and phasing in updated software of the device product as updates are deployed. The vendor shall ensure that software updates are compatible with devices currently in the field.

16. The deliverables being researched herein are determined to be Electronic Information Technology (EIT), and therefore Section 508 of the rehabilitation Act will apply. No exception to Section 508 at FAR 39.204 is claimed. Specific applicable sections/provisions for the supplies and services requested herein are in the attachment entitled "Section 508 Compliance table". Respondents must complete the table completely and submit it with their response. The responses received in response to this RFI may be used by the Government to determine commercial availability of Section 508 Compliant supplies and services meeting the Government's requirements.


1. The vendor is responsible for labeling, configuring, and shipping the devices to the locations identified in the attachment entitled "Deployment Locations", with the requested content, in coordination with the DoS.

2. The vendor is responsible for all aspects of shipping the devices via commercial couriers (e.g., FedEx, DHL, UPS, airline cargo etc.) to the locations in the attachment entitled "Deployment Locations". The use of Dispatch agencies may be required. In that event, the DoS will provide separate funding to the Dispatch agencies for freight forwarding costs, and the order shall include only the vendor's costs from origin to the Dispatch agency. If Dispatch agencies are used, the vendor is responsible for labeling, configuring, and shipping the e-readers to the Dispatch agencies.

3. All special shipping instructions provided by the DoS shall be followed exactly to avoid customs delays and fees.

4. The vendor shall mark all shipping containers with labels indicating that its content is a "Diplomatic Shipment."

5. All language to be included on commercial invoices, packing lists and purchase orders shall be approved by the DoS before shipping can commence.

6. To ensure efficient receipt by the locations listed in the attachment entitled "Deployment Locations", the vendor shall supply all Airway Bills, tracking numbers and commercial invoices to the DoS's Bureau of International Information Programs within one business day of shipping via a specific DoS email address.

7. The vendor is responsible for providing the DoS with unique device identification data, including serial numbers, prior to shipping to facilitate asset control and management.


If your firm is capable of meeting the requirements described herein, please provide a Capability Statement. The Capability Statement should include general information and technical background describing your firm's experience providing similar e-reader devices and service delivery requirements, to demonstrate your potential ability to meet DoS objectives.

The RFI response should be formatted according to the following guidelines:
• The Request for Information (Capability Statement) response should be a concise and focused MSWORD document and shall not exceed ten (10) single-sided, type-written pages including cover pages, table of contents, etc. This page limit excludes the completed Section 508 Compliance table, (discussed below).
• To facilitate the Government's comparative review of responses, all responses shall be ordered and numbered in the manner shown below.
• Font should be Times New Roman, 12-point or larger.
• All page margins (excluding headers and footers) should be 1".
• Company name should be in the headers and page numbers should be in the footers.
• Sale brochures, videos, and other marketing information materials are not solicited and will not be reviewed. Do not submit cost or price information with the response.
• Use of the Department of State Seal is limited to official government use only. Use of the Seal by respondents (e.g. copying it into your response, in cover pages, or in headers or margins) is strictly prohibited.

At a minimum, DoS requests the following information:
1. Completion of the Section 508 Compliance table (attached to this RFI).
2. Vendor Capability Statement outlining your company's ability to deliver e-readers meeting the specifications described above and ability to perform each of the requested services. The respondent must indicate the extent to which it can meet each of the Content Distribution, Content Requirements, Content Management, Devices, and Logistics requirements in this RFI. Failure to address a requirement will be interpreted as an inability of the respondent to meet that requirement.
3. Technical specifications of the e-reader recommended, including manufacturer name, model number, part number. The respondent must indicate the extent to which the recommended e-reader can meet each of the device requirements in this RFI. Failure to address a requirement will be interpreted as an inability of the respondent to meet that requirement.
4. The respondent must indicate its capabilities relating to e-reader production and delivery. Specifically, respondents must identify what quantity of e-readers they are capable of producing and delivering in a given timeframe, including lead time after receipt of order.


Any questions regarding this posting must be submitted no later than ten (10) working days prior to the due date of this notice, in order to allow answers to questions to be publicly posted before the required response date. No phone calls related to this Request for Information will be accepted. All correspondence shall be via email.

DoS plans to eliminate duplicate questions by posting any and all questions on the website. If any questions contain proprietary information, then such information must be identified as such by the respondent.

Additional information or updates will be posted at the website. It is the responsibility of interested parties to check this website regularly for any changes or updates.


If your firm is capable of providing any of the service requirements described herein, then interested parties should submit an electronic copy of the completed capability matrix and statement in MSWORD format via email.

Responses are due no later than the date specified in this FedBizOpps notice, directed to:

Contracting Officer's Name: Steven G. Haines
E-mail Address:
Subject Line: IIP e-Reader Market Research (Company Name)


The Government does not intend to award a contract(s) based on the submissions of this RFI, nor does it intend to pay for any costs incurred in response to this announcement. This RFI is solely intended for information and planning purposes and does not constitute a solicitation. The Government intends to make socioeconomic-related and other acquisition strategy determinations based, in part, on responses to this notice. Responses to this notice are not offers and cannot be accepted by the Government to form a binding contract.

Any proprietary information contained in the capability statement must be marked accordingly. The information obtained through this process is considered to be market research as described by FAR 2.101 and in accordance with FAR 10.002. Respondents will not be notified of the result of this market research.

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RFI Attachments

Other (Draft RFPs/RFIs, Responses to Questions, etc..)
RFI Attachments
Posted Date:
August 17, 2012
Description: Deployment Locations
Description: Section 508 Compliance Table
P.O. Box 9115
Rosslyn Station
Arlington, Virginia 22219
United States
Steven G. Haines
Phone: 7038756746