The ABS said in a posting on the AusTender Web site it was inviting tenders for the provision of call centre services and facilities "in relation to the national recruitment campaign for temporary personnel required by the [ABS] for the 2006 Census of Population and Housing". The facilities are expected to be required for 18 months from December.
ABS assistant director, population census field administration, Andrew Lamb, said the ABS would require several thousand temporary staff for the census. However, the exact number of staff needed for the call centre will depend on the technology used by the contractor. The ABS is expecting to receive 100,000 calls during the census period.
Lamb said the value of the tender could not be disclosed by the ABS as the bureau is still in the middle of the tender process.
The ABS also stipulated that "the call centre facilities will be located in Australia and in the building premises where the successful tenderer [or] contractor conducts its business".
Lamb said the bureau did not consider offshoring the call centre operations because they need close links with the contractor during the campaign.
"This is a fairly short campaign and we need to work closely together especially if there will be changes needed during the process. We prefer to have someone close by," Lamb said.
He added that no census call centre has been offshored before.