Translation Services Contracts Enjoy Growth Spurt


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Translation Services Contracts Enjoy Growth Spurt

Excerpted from GovExec.com - December 22, 2005

.Contractors that offer translation services are seeing sales soar as the federal government puts more resources into ensuring information doesn't get lost in translation.

Demand for the General Services Administration's language schedule, which offers translation and interpretation services, has skyrocketed in recent years. In fiscal 2005, federal agencies bought $104 million worth of services through the schedule, an increase of almost 23,000 percent from fiscal 2000.

While translation for intelligence services has gotten the most media attention, and the Defense Department is the top consumer of language services offered on the schedule, much of the growth in sales is the result of civilian agencies' desire to reach out to a diverse citizen base, according to GSA and companies providing the services. The Social Security Administration, Energy Department and Justice Department are among the top five buyers.

Liz Elting, president and chief executive of New York City-based TransPerfect Translations, attributed much of the growth to the government's desire to reach out to U.S. citizens. TransPerfect translated information on food stamps into Arabic, Spanish, Vietnamese, Hmong and Chinese to help reach people living in the United States.

Much of the increased demand for translation can be traced to President Clinton's 2000 executive order requiring agencies to make their programs accessible to people who are not fluent in English. An interagency working group helps agencies meet that mandate. The emphasis on outreach is leading to serious revenue growth for translation companies. TransPerfect Translations, which recently won a GSA contract for language services, has doubled its direct sales to the government in the past five years, Elting said.

The demand for services is so high right now that it sometimes exceeds what companies are capable of providing, particularly when work is classified and involves lesser-known Middle Eastern languages.

—Kimberly Palmer

 
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