A Sept. 19 Washington Business article about a new government contract incorrectly identified Washington Consulting Inc. The Vienna-based company is involved in a General Services Administration contract to set up offices for the 2010 census. (Published 9/21/2005)

For the next census, in 2010, the General Services Administration must set up 550 offices, each with 6,000 square feet. The offices must be equipped with furniture, computers, telecommunications lines, pens, paper and other things.

By the time the Census Bureau finishes the once-a-decade tally in 2011, as many as 4,000 people could be involved in setting up, working in and then moving out of the offices around the country.

The job previously was handled through e-mail and spreadsheets, but they were not always reliable, said Ron Dovel, the GSA's national account director for the Census 2010 project. He also worked on the 2000 Census.

"In 2000, there were circumstances where people didn't get the latest e-mail and weren't building out the latest plans," he said.

The 2010 Census will be different, Dovel and other GSA officials said. They expect new customer relationship management software to give the GSA and Census officials an updated view of what is going on at each of the 550 sites. They are using version 7.5 of the CRM software from Siebel Systems Inc. of San Mateo, Calif. (The impact, if any, on the census of Oracle Corp.'s pending deal to buy Siebel is not known. Analysts said after the deal was announced last week that they expected Oracle to support Siebel's software, at least for now.)

Officials using the software will be able to access information such as furniture delivery schedules and telecommunications wiring plans and know whom to call with questions or concerns.

The GSA also plans to use the Siebel system for other large projects, such as building federal courthouses and IRS service centers, and smaller projects as varied as information technology infrastructure work and car-buying, said Mary Joy Pizzella, the GSA's associate administrator for the Office of Citizen Services and Communications.

This summer, the GSA awarded Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego a contract worth up to $46.6 million to integrate the customer relationship management tool across the agency over the next five years.

SAIC's federal government operation in McLean is working on the project, as are the Washington area offices of its subcontractors, including Siebel Systems in Reston, Optimos Inc. of Chantilly, Occam Solutions Inc. in Annandale, Washington Consulting Group Inc. of Bethesda and International Business Machines Corp. in Rockville.

The GSA this summer tested the software with the Census Bureau and the IRS to work "the bugs out of the system," said Brad Scott, a GSA regional administrator.

The GSA expects about 950 employees to use the tool initially, and that number could expand to 2,500 in five years, Pizzella said. The most frequent users will be account managers and those who work with agency customers, she said.

The concept of customer relationship management software is not new for the government. It is used by agencies such as the Postal Service, the U.S. Mint, and the National Archives and Records Administration. The private sector has used such tools for years, General Services Administrator Stephen A. Perry said.

"If an organization can identify who is the user of a product or service and what is the value proposition . . . the more you focus on that, the more you focus on what is important," Perry said.

Jason Miller is assistant managing editor of Government Computer News. Information on government technology issues can be found at www.gcn.com