The U.S. Office of Personnel Management is seeking bids for its new voluntary dental and vision benefits program.[@@]

The OPM is looking for insured dental programs, and it is willing to consider both insured and discount-only vision programs.

At this point, the OPM is thinking of offering the 1.8 million eligible federal employees a choice of different dental and vision plans through a voluntary benefits portal.

The agency has published a long request for proposals on a government procurement Web site.

Proposals are due Jan. 17, 2006, and the OPM hopes to award a contract by May 26, 2006.

The OPM has some requests that are similar to the kinds of requests that other large benefits purchasers might make.

The agency is hoping vendors will make some kind of arrangements for employees who live outside the continental
United States, and it is asking vendors to agree to meet a variety of performance standards for communications and service.

The agency wants vendors to hold the difference between premiums for employees living in the most expensive areas of the country and least expensive to 50%.

But the OPM also has what appear to be some unique requirements.

In Appendix G, the OPM describes the security requirements needed to protect members of the federal intelligence community who will be buying voluntary dental coverage.

“Contractor must be willing and able to clear an appropriate number of people,” the OPM says. “Key people who manage payroll operations and who have broad access to data and systems will be required to obtain Top Secret clearances and pass polygraph exams.”

A contractor also must “agree to compartmentalize and protect hard copy records” and to agree to “physical security evaluations by the Intelligence Community agencies and to upgrade security as requested.”

In addition, a contractor must be willing to work with intelligency community payroll systems, the OPM says.