For: Digital talking book distribution analysis. Task 3 - Statement of Work (Final report : August 29, 2006)
Section 5 - DOD Center Operations
This section of the report presents the Statement of Work for the implementation and operation of Duplication-on-Demand (DOD) Centers. This contractor-performed function will be an integral part of future DTB distribution operations if the Hybrid DTB distribution system is implemented by NLS.
New Approach : Current audio book distribution operations employ a modest degree of support from contractor-operated facilities, i.e., the Multistate Centers, which effectively perform limited duplication-on-demand of RC copies from masters maintained in collections, as well as circulation of RC backup copies from circulating collections. However, the scale of operations (in terms of copies duplicated and circulated) and the modus operandi to be employed (that no collections would be maintained and all copies would be duplicated-on-demand) by DOD Centers will be significantly different from that of the current MSC operations. With DTB mass-duplication planned to begin in FY 2008, the planning scenario for earliest implementation of the Hybrid distribution system will require selection of a DOD Center contractor during FY 2010 so that DOD Center-based DTB distribution can begin during FY 2012 after an approximate 2-year implementation period.
Multiple Centers : While the expected level of initial circulation activity will not justify the use of two DOD Centers, it is recommended that two DOD Center operations be ultimately implemented in geographically separate areas, one located in and serving the eastern portion of the country, and the other located in and serving the western portion. The primary reason for this orientation is the reduction of operational risk, and the second is to reduce the average DTB transit times in the USPS mail-stream. Whether the second DOD Center would be operated by the same contractor that operates the first Center, or a different contractor, is a relevant but tertiary consideration.
Selection of Contractor : The contractor who will operate a DOD Center must be selected before final planning for implementation can begin. Major considerations in selecting a contractor will include financial integrity, geographic location, adequate and timely USPS support, available information processing capability, familiarity with related production processes, and familiarity with mail-order distribution of consumer goods. It is expected, but not necessarily the case, that the DOD Center will be a separate operating entity in the production/distribution operations of the contractor, and that separate cost and production records will be maintained.
Asset Ownership and Period of Performance : In writing a contract for DOD Center operations, a decision must be made by NLS as to contract length, the investment required of the contractor and of the NLS, resources that will be provided or shared, and the unit cost for DTB production/distribution at specified copy circulation levels. Almost certainly the contractor will provide the facility (whether owned or leased) and the staffing for implementation and operation of the Centers. Applications software developed and implemented under the contract would effectively be NLS property, whether NLS would own outright the products or instead have unlimited, eternal use of them. However, NLS could, for example, mandate the development of two integrated but distinct software application modules, one for interfacing with network libraries and managing orders, and the other that manages actual production and distribution of DTB copies and is highly customized to the contractor’s production process; in this manner, the network library interface module could be provided by NLS to a second contractor for operation of a second Center who would then develop their own customized production control program for that Center. With regard to capital equipment and the purchase thereof, some/all could be contractor-provided, or instead be contractor-specified and NLS-provided (and owned). Considerable planning and negotiation must, therefore, be done before an appropriate contractor can be selected and implementation can begin.
Background for Offerors
The The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) of the Library of Congress (LOC) administers a free library service to approximately 525,000 eligible residents of the US and US citizens living overseas who cannot read, hold or handle print media because of visual and/or physical disabilities. Under a special exemption of the US copyright laws and with the cooperation of authors and publishers who grant permission to use non-covered copyrighted works in the program, NLS selects and produces annually about 2,000 full-length audio book titles and 45 audio magazines in a specialized 4-Track, 15/16 ips recorded cassette (RC) format.
In FY 2008, NLS also began to produce full-length digital audio book titles on Flash Memory cartridges, known as Digital Talking Books (DTBs). A transition in now underway in which DTBs are replacing RCs in the program, and FY 2010 is the last year in which RC books are being produced; beginning in FY 2011, only DTBs will be produced. NLS also produces specially-designed Digital Talking Book Machines (DTBMs) which enable readers in the program to play DTBs, which are produced in a specialized format.
A cooperating nationwide network of 57 regional (RL) and 75 subregional (SRL) libraries store and loan DTBs to readers in the program, who return the DTBs to the libraries. Virtually all circulation of DTBs is on a mail-order basis, which is performed by the US Postal Service (USPS) and the costs of which are covered under a special Congressional appropriation for the same ("Free Matter for the Blind").
NLS has determined that a minority of audio book titles produced generate the majority of circulation associated with all the titles produced in any given year. Also, after books have circulated for several years from library collections, their popularity wanes significantly. NLS has, therefore, analyzed possibilities associated with implementation of a “Hybrid” audio book distribution system, in which approximately 40% of new DTB titles produced would be mass-duplicated, distributed to libraries and circulated to readers as is currently done and account for about 80% of total circulation, and approximately 60% of titles generating about 20% of total circulation would be provided to contractor-operated Duplication-on-Demand (DOD) Centers.
DOD Centers would receive DTB title masters from NLS narration contractors, receive DTB cartridges and containers from NLS, store the title masters on an information system, produce DTB copies as instructed by network libraries on an on-demand basis, ship them to readers who would return them directly to the Centers, and reuse the returned copies. The Center would store no DTB "collection" (i.e., copies) in a conventional sense, and would have no contact with program readers other than the shipment of a DOD DTB copy to a reader and the return of the copy by a reader to the Center. A variation upon this theme is the "migration" of mass-duplicated DTB titles from library collections to DOD Center-provided circulation after approximately six-to-eight years in library circulation, i.e., after the popularity, and hence circulation, of a title has waned significantly. A combination of these two operating modes is also possible.
Libraries need to minimize the necessary number of titles and associated copies that they store in collections, because facility storage space is costly. NLS has determined that the provision of DTB circulation using a Hybrid distribution model is somewhat more economically efficient than an All Mass-Duplication system from NLS’s perspective, and considerably more efficient from the perspective of network libraries. It is, therefore, NLS’s intention to award a contract for implementation and operation of a DOD Center to effect the Hybrid DTB distribution system.
The contractor shall furnish all supervision, supplies, materials, labor, equipment, facilities and overhead support, except where otherwise noted herein, to satisfactorily implement and operate a DTB DOD Center.
NLS will provide the following three types of products to the contractor for DOD Center operations as Government-Furnished Equipment (GFE), being the property of the US Government. [Note to NLS: this paragraph would be modified if the decision is made for production equipment, including information system hardware, to be GFE].
DTB Cartridge : The DTB is a customized Flash Memory cartridge, of 256 MB capacity, and uses a USB 2.0 connector. It is about the size of an audio cassette, approximately 3/8" thick, white in color, and very durable. On blank cartridges provided to the contractor, which may be new or reconditioned, there is no label on the top face; on reconditioned cartridges, there could be some minor adhesive residue. On the bottom face, it has one label that has "Property of US Government," certain information for quality control purposes in both print and barcode, and an FCC symbol. Each cartridge has a unique ID, but it is internal and machine-readable only by plugging-in the cartridge. A drawing of the DTB cartridge is shown in the attachment, the specification for the DTB (cartridge and recorded digital book) is available from the NLS website, and a sample of the DTB (both a blank and loaded cartridge) will be provided by NLS for the purposes of proposal preparation (which must be returned after proposal submission).
DTB Container : The DTB container is made of plastic, blue in color, and is approximately 6" deep x 5" wide x 0.75" thick. It is hinged and openable from the top, has buckle-type fastener straps, and is stackable. Blank containers provided to the DOD Center contractor, which may be new or reconditioned, will have no labels; on reconditioned containers, there could be some minor adhesive residue where labels used to reside on one long edge, the front short edge, and the bottom face. It holds a single Flash Memory cartridge, and there is only one size of container. The container has a pocket with flanges that hold a 3" x 5" address/mailing card which will be used by the DOD Center to mail copies to patrons, and by patrons (using the information on the reverse side of the card) to return copies to the DOD Center. The container is designed so that the cartridge is cradled face-up when placed in it, and so that the container will not close unless the cartridge is properly oriented. A drawing of the DTB container is shown in the attachment, the specification for the DTB container is available from the NLS website, and a sample of the container will be provided by NLS for the purposes of proposal preparation (which must be returned after proposal submission).
DTB Title Masters : NLS narration contractors will produce and forward to the DOD Center contractor DTB files for each title to be managed by the DOD Center. These files will be produced to the NLS audio book standard (ANSI/NISO Z39.86), compressed by the AMR WB+ compression algorithm/codec, be encrypted using National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) encryption standards, and in an "image" file format (to expedite copying operations). An average DTB title requires about 120 MB of memory. While DTB titles may also be telecommunicated to the DOD Center by the narration contractor who produced the title, a CD or DVD copy will always be shipped to the DOD Center, to be archived and used for loading, recovery or restoring of data, if and as necessary. The specification for the DTB title master is available from the NLS website, and a sample title master on CD will be provided by NLS for the purposes of proposal preparation (which must be returned after proposal submission).
Documents Available for Review
The following documents are available for review by prospective offerors, and can be obtained from the NLS website. They must be reviewed by the DOD Center contractor.
- "Final System Design Report", ManTech International Corporation, June 29, 2006
- "Duplicating Equipment: Concepts and Example Components", Battelle Institute, Inc., April 20, 2006
- Network library circulation statistics (most recent, and 5-year history)
- NLS Specification for the DTB cartridge
- NLS Specification for the DTB (note – there are differences for a DOD DTB)
- NLS Specification for the DTB container
- NLS Specification for the DTB master
Formative Operating Mode for a DOD Center
The operating mode for a DOD Center and its roles in the distribution system for DTBs described here were originally developed by NLS in order to provide a rational way of estimating prospective costs, and for evaluating other meaningful attributes for the Hybrid distribution system. Alternative ways of automating these functional requirements can be pursed by the contractor, if desired. The description is provided to prospective offerors as a basis for consideration in the preparation of proposals.
About 20% of total program DTB circulation must ultimately be provided by the DOD Center. The mission of the facility will be to fill demand for DTBs that are not distributed by network libraries. These are the slowest-moving titles that will account for about 20% of reader demand.
DOD Center Throughput Capacity
The design throughput capacity of a DOD Center will be as follows:
|Number of Copies|
|Total annual throughput - 20% of 20,000,000||4,000,000|
|Copies per day @ 250 working days per year||16,000|
|Copies per day for each of two facilities||8,000|
|Copies per minute for a net 400 minute workday||20|
The throughput of a DOD production line must accordingly be between 20 and 30 copies per minute, depending solely upon the speed of duplication. The design specification for the duplicator line must therefore be at least 20 copies per minute. All upstream and downstream production tasks will also be accomplished in this time frame to prevent bottlenecks, and duplicate workstations and equipment will be provided as needed and to the maximum extent possible to minimize operational risk.
The handling units will be the DTB cartridge and the container, and there will never be more than one cartridge in a shipment. The container (described above) is made of a rigid durable plastic, and has a lid fastener that is secure to prevent opening in transit, but can be readily opened and closed by the patron. There will be no container labeling used for DOD Center circulation other than the address card and an adhesive print label that uniquely identifies the DOD Center so that containers with lost address cards can still be returned to the Center.
The cartridge labeling must include all of the print information specified in the DTB specification, plus a unique transaction number in barcode format (and possibly print) which is assigned by the DOD Center information system at the time of order entry. Braille labeling must be provided for Braille readers, who constitute 5% of the readership, and for other readers who have indicated a desire to have Braille labeling on their DOD books, estimated as another 5% of the readership. Thus a total of about 10% of the orders filled must have Braille labels.
The cartridge is designed to be readily conveyable through the automated receiving, reconditioning, labeling, duplication, and packing operations. It has an accommodation that makes the labels mechanically and automatically removable when the cartridges are being prepared for recirculation.
A DOD Center will likely have two distinct production areas, which are operationally independent, as follows:
- Input operations, including returns receiving, check-in of patron returns, and reconditioning of cartridges; and
- Output operations, including label printing, cartridge labeling, duplication, check-out of patron shipments, packing and shipping.
The two production operations will probably have the same basic start times and operating schedules, and each will have a variable workload. However, all output operations will end on or before the 5:00 PM deadline for same-day shipment of patron orders. DOD Center service response times must compare favorably with response times for library shipments of DTBs to patrons.
A sizeable storage area for reconditioned cartridges will probably be located between the two operating areas. This buffer is needed to counter the daily variations in cartridge input. When workflow is in balance, the area will be half-full. An 8-hour supply of cartridges will probably be adequate to provide this buffering capability. About 240 new cartridges will be added to the buffer supply on an average day, to provide for an expected attrition rate of 3% of copies circulated.
Shipping demand in a DOD Center is also expected to vary by day of week. For scheduling purposes, it will probably be best to have a stable duplication workload, and to do this, there would have to be a carryover order backlog from day-to-day, but not necessarily from week-to-week. This backlog of unfilled orders should be labeled cartridges in storage tubes that are staged in front of the duplicators, where they will be available for immediate duplication, as later described, or of some other type.
All DOD Center DTB input will be received from a local Bulk Mail Center (BMC) (possibly via another local postal facility in the same area), and all DTB output will be sent to the BMC. The handling unit for this workflow will be a large metal open-top tow-line container called a Bulk Mail Container (BMC), also referred to as an “OTR”. A BMC measures 42" wide x 60" long x 69" high, and will hold up to 2,200 DTB containers. About 20 BMCs will be received and processed each week by a DOD Center. The incoming BMC’s will also contain patron non-deliveries, and some other packages, which must first be sorted out.
The BMC’s could be unloaded using a specially designed dumping machine that does not require a high lift. The machine will lift the BMC some 3" off the floor and then rotate it slowly to dump the contents onto a 36" wide heavy-duty pan-type belt conveyor that rises to table height to push the books onto a slick-steel sort table. The table could be some 10 feet long and 36" wide, and have 3" high side rails on 3 sides. The conveyor belt and tilt mechanism on the dumper would be manually controlled to keep the worktable full. Packages other than returned DTBs would then be removed, and the patron non-deliveries taken to the DOD Center office for special handling.
There would be two fully-mechanized cartridge reconditioning lines in a DOD Center, each of which would have a rated capacity of 12 copies per minute. Two receivers will probably be required to feed these lines, which will be monitored by an attendant. This production schema will also provide the ability for one line to continue operating if the other goes down.
A receiver will first obtain a container from the receiving sort table and remove the address card from the container. This can be done either manually or with vacuum assist. The receiver will then place the container in a magazine that is an integral part of the conveyor that feeds the workstations. The container will be oriented in the magazine to conform with the needs of downstream operations. On signal, conveyor controls will then singulate a container from the magazine onto the conveyor. The conveyor will be designed to hold the container in place during transit, but later operations may require that the container be clamped in place at the workstations.
The first workstation on the line is container opening, at which time the container straps are unlatched. This will be a fully automated operation. The opened container will then proceed on the conveyor to an inspection workstation, where it will be removed from the conveyor by an inspector. The inspector will remove the cartridge from the container and stack the empty container on a cart. There will be no labels to remove from a DOD container, and the attendant will later take a full cart to the packing area where the containers will be reused for shipping the same day.
The inspector must make a visual inspection of the cartridge to insure that there is no damage (primarily to the Universal Serial Bus (USB) connector), and to insure that there is a barcode on the cartridge (to verify that it is not a mass-duplication cartridge that belongs to a library). The cartridge will then be placed in a magazine that is an integral part of the conveyor that feeds cartridges to the label removal workstation. At this point, the cartridge will be oriented label-up and with the USB connector trailing.
Conveyor controls will cycle a cartridge onto the conveyor and the barcode on the label will be read while the cartridge is in motion, so as to record return of the copy, and the library will be so advised via a "Return" transaction. The cartridge will be held stable on the conveyor, but will have to be clamped in place at the label removal station due to the force required to remove the label. The cartridge and the label will be designed to facilitate this removal, which will be fully automated, and will take less than 5 seconds.
The final station on the conveyor line will automatically place the reconditioned cartridges in work-in-process storage tubes that will contain 80 cartridges (based upon an assumed thickness of 3/8"). When a storage tube becomes full, it will be automatically cycled out of the station and an empty tube will be cycled into place. The full tubes of reconditioned cartridges will be stored in a staging area near the cartridge labeling infeed conveyors.
Cartridge Label Printing
Orders will be telecommunicated to a DOD Center by the libraries, and after checks for validity and completeness, the Center will assign a unique transaction number to each Order. The transaction number will link the title ordered to the patron order in the DOD Center database, and will appear on a cartridge label in barcode format (and possibly human-readable format). The label data for the approximately 40,000 titles in the DOD Center database will be stored on label servers (assumed to be dedicated devices, but could possibly be system servers). The production control system will then retrieve patron orders from the open order files, and label images form the label servers, and automatically print the labels.
The cartridge labels will be in pressure-sensitive strip-roll format, and rolls of labels will be immediately delivered to the production area. The labels will be in duplication sequence, i.e., either First-In-First-Out (FIFO) or sorted by title duration, i.e., write time, depending upon the sequencing scheme used for the actual duplication process. Patron orders coded “Rush” must have top priority, and a cartridge label will be promptly printed as soon as a rush order is received. The Rush labels will not be commingled with other labels.
Schedule-wise, the up-front labeling operation will be run intermittently, but two label print lines will be needed to reduce operational risk and provide flexibility. Each line will have a print station and a Braille embosser, and the control system will activate the embosser only when a Braille label is required.
The cartridge labeling will be conveyorized and automated, and there will be two identical labeling lines to provide the required labeling capacity, and also to provide the ability for one line to continue to operate if the other line goes down. The blank cartridges that are to be labeled will be in the work-in-process storage tubes previously cited, and an induction station at the head of the line will meter the cartridges onto the conveyor. The cartridges could either be held in place while the label is being applied, or could be labeled while in motion.
At the final workstation on the cartridge labeling conveyor, the labeled cartridges will be automatically placed in a work-in-process storage tube. When a storage tube becomes full, it will be automatically cycled out of the station and an empty tube will be cycled into place. The full tubes of labeled cartridges will be stored in a staging area near the duplicator infeed conveyors.
Cartridge duplication is expected to be the bottleneck operation in DOD production. To ease this bottleneck, the duplication and packing operations could therefore be scheduled to operate a full 480 minutes a day, as needed. The extra staffing required for this schedule will come from the labor pool of the contractor, and approximately four part-time people will be needed.
The write speed of flash memory is assumed to be at least 4 MB/s. For the erase speed of flash memory, it is assumed that only several seconds (1-5) will be required to erase the average size DTB. Given the average size of an NLS DTB, i.e., about 120 MB, it will require approximately 30 seconds to first erase and then write an average size DTB title in a duplication operation. Additional time will be needed to cycle a cartridge into and out of the duplicator.
Book duplication times are a key input to systems design, and based upon a required cycle time of 30 seconds per copy, there must be 10 duplicators. Labeled cartridges will either be fed to the duplicators from a common infeed conveyor (ref. Battelle report), or possibly fed to each of the duplicators individually using a multiple-queue, multiple-server approach. This later approach: (1) has the advantage of not having to sort orders by duration time, but rather by FIFO sequence; (2) would make the workflow smoother if one or several duplicators go down; and (3) may facilitate smoother production for the 10% of cartridges that will require Braille labels if modifications to duplicators are necessary RE handling cartridges labeled with Braille labels. There will be five duplicators on each of two duplication lines in this configuration.
Cartridges will be labeled prior to duplication using this process, and the labeled cartridges will be stored in tubes. The cartridges will be automatically fed into the duplicators, where they will first be erased and then duplicated. The loaded cartridges will be automatically exited from the duplicators onto two output conveyors that lead to the packing/shipping workstations. The workstations will be located along the conveyors, and cartridges will accumulate on the conveyors ahead of the stations.
Cartridge Packing and Shipping
There will be two packing stations on each of the two duplicator lines, and each station will have a barcode scanner, a high-speed address card printer, and a supply of empty DTB containers. After removing a cartridge from the conveyor, the packer will pass the cartridge through a barcode scanner to signal that the order has been shipped, and the library will be so advised. The scanning will also notify the printer at the station that an address card is needed, and the cartridge will be packed while the address card is being printed. Packed and labeled containers will be placed on a takaway conveyor that leads to the shipping area, where the containers will be loaded directly into an outgoing BMC for USPS pickup.
It may be possible to read the barcode automatically and place the cartridge into a container, and the mailing card could be automatically inserted into the holding slot on the container. Another variation on this function is to first insert a blank address card into a container and then print the address information with the container either stationary or preferably in motion.
Production Line Configuration
The production line for a DOD Center with a throughput capacity of 8,000 DTB copies per day, as just described, is in essence two production lines of 4,000 DTB copies per day running in parallel. This is a robust production configuration that significantly reduces operational risk, and must either be emulated by the contractor or other alternatives which reduce operational risk comparably must be implemented.
Production Information Systems Support for a DOD Center
The contractor must develop an integrated information system to support DOD Center operations. This system must exchange information with network libraries and manage and process orders for DTBs duplicated-on-demand in a semi or fully-automated production environment capable of an average daily throughput of 8,000 DTB copies.
The information system will be custom-built, and the required functionality would have to be developed by the contractor or a subcontractor who is a Systems Developer/Integrator. Regardless of how the overall information system is configured vis-à-vis formal subsystems (e.g., one could interact with library information systems, and another control DTB production within the Center, each interacting with one another in a fully-integrated, seamless system), the core functionality requirements of the system are as follows:
- (1) Information Exchange - Exchange information with network libraries to facilitate DOD distribution of DTBs, the envisioned processes for which are discussed further below.
- (2) Production Control - Manage all production within the DOD Centers including production planning.
- (3) Check-In - Interface with receiving workstations for patron returns, undeliverables, and possibly for new title masters (new title master processing may occur at a workstation other than the receiving workstation).
- (4) Print Labels - Produce print title labels for the labeling of all copies produced.
- (5) Braille Labels - Produce Braille title labels for the labeling of about 10% of the copies produced. Note: the contractor may determine that it is advantageous to label all cartridges with Braille labels, depending upon the label creation and application technology available and employed.
- (6) Duplication - Manage the Flash Drive cartridge dispenser/duplicator/file server/output conveyor interface.
- (7) Shipping Labels/Checkout – Print shipping labels at the packing stations and checkout outgoing copies (which could be performed in one or two steps).
Information Exchange Between DOD Center and Libraries
The expected information exchange between the DOD Center information system and the information systems of network libraries is detailed in Sections 4.3.1 through 4.3.14 of the ManTech “Final System Design Report,” previously cited, as well as the information system requirements for the DOD Center. The requirements cited therein are included in this SOW by reference with the full force and effect of their being included in entirety.
Mass-Storage Device(s)/DTB File Servers and Processing of New DTB Titles
The inventory of all DTB titles that would be used by a Center for duplication-on-demand operations will reside in large file, or “image,” servers utilizing hard drive-based data storage and having very fast READ-speeds, rather than servers using optical jukebox-based storage (which have much slower READ speeds). If nominally 40,000 DTB titles are to be stored eventually on the files servers in compressed format (either AMRWB+ or older MP3 formatted titles), then the required capacity of the file servers would be a minimum of 5 Terabytes (TB) per Center (assuming the average NLS DTB is about 120 MB in size).
These file servers would be loaded with new DTB titles in compressed, encrypted and "image" (which expedites the copying of files) format as received from NLS narration contractors. Five new DTB titles would be received per average workday (assuming 250 working days per year), assuming NLS produces 2,000 new titles per year.
New DTB titles would be received at the DOD Centers from NLS narration contractors via either data telecommunicated over high-speed channels and/or courier delivery on CDs, DVDs, or other portable data storage medium. Even if the new title masters are acquired via data telecommunications, CD/DVD copies of the title masters will nevertheless also be shipped to the DOD Centers and must be stored there on-site and/or in close proximity offsite in a backup collection for restore and recovery operations if necessary. Files for new DTB titles received by the DOD Centers will probably, but not necessarily, have to be written to the file servers after duplication operations have ceased for the workday, not while the duplicators are operating. These WRITE operations will constitute a minor daily task.
The primary production function of the file servers will be to "feed" the flash memory cartridge duplicators with DTB files as directed by the production control system. The DTB files will be in image format to expedite both reading from the file servers and writing to the flash cartridges being duplicated. High-speed optical cables would enable the rapid transfer of DTB files from the file servers to the duplicators. During the hours that duplicators are operating, the file servers will likely be exclusively performing READ operations and feeding the duplicators with DTB files. WRITE operations, i.e., the loading of new DTB files onto the file servers, will likely occur when the duplicators are not operating. The ability of the file servers to perform continuous, rapid READ operations will likely be critical to the DOD production operation, and they collectively must have the ability to READ 8,000 DTB files per working day (possibly during a nominal 8-hour shift).
These mass-storage file servers will likely not be used for any other purposes in the DOD Center operations. That is, neither applications software for enabling DOD Center-library information exchange, managing order processing, nor controlling actual DTB DOD production within the Centers will likely be housed on these mass-storage devices. Neither will network libraries, program patrons, nor other external entities have access to the file servers in the DOD Centers.
A DOD Center must have at least two completely independent DTB file server devices, each capable of storing all the DTB title files managed by the Centers. This measure is necessary to reduce operational risk, i.e., so that one can continue to operate if the other is down regardless of whether, from a logistics standpoint, one or more file servers are necessary to feed the flash cartridge duplicators with DTB files when the duplicators are operating. Therefore, even if a single mass-storage device were to have multiple, independent hard drives which could function as file servers (in terms of both required capacity and READ speed), if such a device has a single power supply, then it does not provide the type of independent support required for the "duplex" DOD DTB production lines recommended for a Center.
Estimated Resource Requirements for DOD Production
The estimates below and in the appendices are simply baseline estimates to be considered by offerors for proposal preparation, and are based upon the DOD Center mode of operation as described above. Actual resource requirements must be determined by the offeror based upon the offeror’s performance plan and technical approach to satisfying the requirements of this SOW.
The estimated staffing for a DOD Center operating at rated capacity using the operating mode described will be 14 people, consisting of 10 production personnel, 3 office personnel, and one supervisor, as shown in Appendix 1. This would be a daytime, 1-shift operation, provide program readers with the same or better shipping response times as they receive from network libraries, and have no carryover at the end of a workweek.
The estimated size of a DOD Center is 4,400 square feet, and details of the functional space allocations for the production configuration described above are provided in Appendix 2. This estimate assumes that a DOD Center will be a compatible part of the operations of a larger contractor; as noted, this may not necessarily be the case. The 4,400 square feet is therefore only the net production and office area required, and does not include common areas, such as receiving and shipping docks and employee facilities.
The estimated capital equipment requirements for a DOD Center based upon the mode of operation described above are shown in Appendix 3. These requirements, as stated, include related programming and Information Technology (IT) equipment needs.
The contractor’s inspection system covering all general and specific tasks shall contain measures for prompt detection of any condition that fails to conform with the contract SOW. Corrective action procedures shall include, as a minimum, action to correct any deficiencies and measures to prevent recurrence of the same deficiencies. NLS will also perform production quality control inspections of DOD Center operations via sampling, the specific plan for which is TBD.
The DOD Center must have ready access to a Bulk Mail Center and a local post office that are capable of handling high volumes of mail and bulk mail containers (BMCs, also referred to as OTRs). That is, the contractor’s place-of-business must be located in close proximity to these types of USPS facilities. The contractor must also maintain a good rapport with the USPS.
The contractor shall protect government property and materials from damage or theft.
Reporting and Administration
On a monthly and annual basis, the contractor shall be required to report to NLS the number of DTB: title masters received, title masters processed, new cartridges received, new containers received, orders received, orders rejected, copies shipped, copies returned undeliverable, copies returned by readers, copies declared lost by network libraries, and inquiries by network libraries. The contractor shall provide NLS access to files concerning all applicable contract documents. All accountability records shall be maintained by the contractor and turned over to the government at the end of the contract.