Kalamazoo RESA as fiscal agent for the Michigan Data Hub, and in partnership with the Center for Educational Performance and Information (CEPI), is releasing the attached RFP for Early Childhood API-Based Reporting System. Currently Early Childhood data in Michigan is submitted in a proprietary MSDS XML format developed by CEPI. We are looking to change that process to an API-based process so that data systems can send the information in that manner. Responses are due on Monday November 12th at 3pm.
The RFP document indicates the steps for requesting clarifications by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be hosting a Technical Call webinar on Thursday, November 1st to answer any questions received by that date as well as any that are asked during the call. To register for the technical call, please visit https://midatahub.zoom.us/meeting/register/24c4ca3e9778372266858a512be5123a.
Thank you in advance for your interest in the proposal. Please email us at the support email address listed above if you have any questions.
The technical call has been completed, and the link to the recording and the slide deck from the session are below.
Additional Q&A following the call:
Q: Requirement #2 in section "Detailed Technical Requirements" states "Recommend, design and implement an Ed-Fi or CEDS-based operational data store (ODS) capable of housing the Early Childhood data as identified". On the call you mentioned that the ODS will be hosted within the CEPI environment. What do you expect as a response to this requirement: hardware or actual DBMS implementation?
A: In the requirement that you reference, we are looking for an actual DBMS implementation. Specifically, the ODS would be one (or possibly more) databases that house the early childhood data, based on the developed specifications. Most likely, this would be housed in a Microsoft SQL server instance created in the DTMB data center. You wouldn't be responsible for creating/managing the hardware environment, except in terms of recommending important features such as RAM, CPU, table data encryption, high availability, etc. The CEPI and DTMB teams would manage the hardware and database software implemented.
Q: Please confirm whether type of contract is "firm fixed price" or "time and materials."
A: Our desire is for a firm fixed price contract.
Q: Please provide further explanation about the instructions provided on page 4 regarding "unit pricing."
A: In the response, there may come a point where the cost for part of the work is identified as #hours times $rate equals $cost. If the multiplication of the hours and rate don’t add up to the cost, then the hours multiplied by the rate will be assumed to be the correct cost amount. This is primarily a clarification of how we will view such a conflict.
Q: Page 3 of the RFP indicates that KRESA services 9 local school districts and is one of 5 Data Hub hosting locations. Will the project covered by this RFP service just these districts or will it cover other districts or all districts in the state?
A: This project will cover all districts in the state. The details for Kalamazoo RESA are primarily background information about the organization.
Q: Page 7 of the RFP asks for a Product Roadmap, but the scope of work seems to be related primarily to custom system development than a single product. Should we focus on describing our approach to maintaining state of the art tools and skills that support system development?
A: Thanks for pointing this out. Some of the terminology is recycled from other RFPs, and this one was not modified as to fit in better with this RFP. Please use this as an opportunity to describe your approach to maintaining state of the art tools and skills that support system development, as you suggested.
Q: Page 15 of the RFP indicates that the scope of the project is to provide an "alternative API-based submission process.....to run in parallel initially with the current early childhood portion of the MSD data submission." Is the expectation that all entities will upload via an API in the future, but for a period of time, some may continue to use another method, such as csv file? If the latter, will the vendor have any responsibility in making modifications to or developing requirements for changes to the data schema for the other upload methods?
A: For an interim period of time, we anticipate that the current process of uploading an MSDS XML file to submit the data will continue. The will remain in place until the new API-based method is functioning well and early childhood providers have sufficient notice and opportunity to update their systems for the new reporting method.
Q: Page 17 of the RFP indicates that early childhood data collection leverages an existing Collection Component Matrix. Is it the expectation that the vendor will use the existing data elements and formats in this matrix or will the vendor be responsible for facilitating conversations to identify changes and additions to the existing data elements?
A: To the degree that there is a need to support the data elements for multiple states, the vendor will be responsible for facilitating conversations to identify a common set of specifications. It will be important that the set of specifications be able to provide at least what is in the current Collection Component Matrix via ETL process to the MSLDS.
Q: Please describe the current role of ISDs in submitting data required for early childhood programs? Is that role expected to change for data submitted via the API upload method?
A: ISDs are the primary submitter of early childhood data, especially for programs such as the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP). They frequently collect the data from other early childhood providers in their county. That said, there are data points that districts can provide. Additionally, there are a number of providers for systems such as head start and preschool who are not ISD or public school-based. There is a desire to use the collection system for these providers as well.
Q: Can you confirm that MI Data Hub and CEPI are not interested in an approach that extends the MI Data Hub and instead wish to host the API and the staging area (before loading into the SLDS) on DTMB servers?
A: Yes, CEPI is interested in having their own environment that can be tailored separately from the MIDataHub environment. This is because there will be additional entities providing early childhood data than are defined at the data hub level. This will give CEPI a level of autonomy in directing that work.
Q: In the Appendix A "Response Forms" it says they must be submitted in MS Excel format. Those forms that require signatures and/or need to be notarized, are we supposed to scan the executed document and insert it in the Excel spreadsheet? Or what is the required procedure for forms A1-A4?
A: For the signed and notarized forms, a scanned version of the forms does not need to be put into Excel. You can use the Excel template to enter the data so you can print and sign. The forms should be included in the printed and electronic copies of the proposal. The pieces that need to be submitted in Excel are the specification related pieces.
Q: Also, form A1 references Addendums 1-3. Could you confirm this section needs to be left blank?
A: In terms of the reference to Addendums 1-3 on form A1, you can leave those blank.
Q: Attachment A7 - Is KRESA looking for something specific in the "Comments" section for each requirement?
A: The comments section is provided in case you want to clarify your response beyond a simple Yes/No answer. It can be left blank without issue.
Q: Attachment A5 & B6 (Vendor Client List) - Can you elaborate on the formatting you are expecting between these two sections? B6 states to include as an Appendix, but A5 was already provided but does not already include rows, such as "role company played".
A: The A5 piece of the Excel document provides us with the data that we need to consistently compare between all submitted responses. Item 6 on page 7 (Vendor Client List) provides an area in the response where you can provide more detail on your previous work and the clients you've worked with. That section doesn't have specific formatting, but needs to hit the bullet points listed. You can use much of what was entered for A5 and format similarly if desired. You are correct that there is more detail requested in the item 6 piece.
Q: Insurance (pg 8) - Are you expecting proof of insurance to be submitted with the proposal?
A: No, just acknowledge that you would be willing to provide it if selected as the winning bidder.
Q: Final Acceptance of the System (pg 14) - Are you expecting the proposal to provide specific performance examinations?
A: You don't really need to provide those as part of the proposal. They can be identified and included at the contract negotiation stage for the selected bidder.
Q: Generating Reports (Req 5.5) - Can you elaborate on the type of information that will be included in the report? Will you want a table/spreadsheet format, dashboards, etc..? Should the solution be an off-the-shelf product?
A: The solution does not need to be an off-the-shelf product (although it could be), but does need to have flexibility to design reports as the needs are identified by the project team. For instance, there will be a need to produce reports to validate the Early Childhood data provided. Another report example would be a data error report that lists errors found in the data. The ability to view online, export as PDF, and to send to print would be desired functionalities.
Q: Can you elaborate on the expectations of the code walkthrough? Should we follow/use any specific coding standards, languages, platforms, or tools that CEPI is familiar with? Is CEPI planning to make future changes to the code after the walkthrough?
A: It is possible that CEPI would make future changes to the code, or contract further for that work to be done. Much of CEPI's work is already completed in Microsoft environments such as MS SQL Server, C#.net, etc. However, it isn't a requirement to use those tools if another toolset makes sense.
Q: Are contacts already available for the 6 states? Are the 6 states already picked?
A: We have had a few preliminary discussions with a few states, and have some contacts, but more work is to occur on that front. The vendor selected this work will not have to identify the states/contacts, but will simply have to convene the contacts that we provide to discuss the work.