The Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL), in cooperation with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Influenza Division (ID), is seeking to identify three (3) state or local public health laboratories (PHLs) to serve as National Influenza reference centers (NIRCs) in support of national influenza surveillance initiatives. The reference centers will serve as an extension of the CDC ID Virology Surveillance and Diagnosis Branch (VSDB) and will provide services that are complementary to those at CDC based on methods and protocols provided by APHL and CDC. Services provided by the reference centers will include: 1) influenza virus isolation and propagation; 2) antiviral resistance testing; and 3) genomic sequencing using next generation sequencing (NGS).
Anticipated RFP Schedule
August 19, 2019 – RFP Issued
September 5, 2019 – Informational teleconference (optional)
September 9, 2019 – Letter of Intent Due to APHL (see below)
September 30, 2019 – RFP Responses Due
October 7, 2019 – Proposal review completed
October 14, 2019 – As needed, follow-up interviews/proposals due
October 15, 2019 – Final review completed and awardees selected
Spring 2020 – Training activities, as needed
2020 – 2021 Influenza Season – First year contract awarded
Confirmation of Intent to Respond
APHL requires that prospective applicants submit a brief email statement indicating an intent to submit a proposal. APHL must receive this email by no later than
5:00 pm EST on Monday, September 9, 2019. To allow for appropriate review process planning,
a letter of intent is required for consideration.
APHL must receive complete responses by 5:00 pm EST on Monday, September 30, 2019. Please see Proposal-Required Submissions section of the RFP for items that must be included in the completed proposal. Applicants may send proposals via email to
APHL will send an email acknowledging the receipt of your application; if you do not receive an acknowledgement within 2 business days, please email the RFP point of contact above to confirm receipt.
Applicants must direct all questions to Melissa Warren (email@example.com). APHL will post questions received from interested PHLs, together with the answers provided by APHL or CDC staff to APHL’s procurement website (www.aphl.org/rfp).
To allow for appropriate review process planning, a letter of intent is required for consideration. Applicants should submit letters by email to Melissa Warren at APHL (Melissa.firstname.lastname@example.org) no later than 5:00 pm EST on Monday, September 9, 2019.
Applications are due to Melissa Warren at APHL (email@example.com) by close of business (5:00 pm ET) September 30, 2019. APHL will send an email acknowledging the receipt of your application. If you do not receive an acknowledgement within two (2) business days, call
240-485-2741 to confirm receipt.
APHL will hold an optional teleconference on Thursday, September 5, 2019 at 3:00 pm ET. The purpose of this call will be to provide a brief overview of the project and to allow potential applicants to ask CDC and APHL questions. Please come with questions prepared.
Teleconference call-in information is below, or please contact
firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 12:00 pm ET on Tuesday, September 3, 2019 to receive the calendar invitation.
Join Zoom Meeting
+1-646-876-9923 US OR
Meeting ID 348-940-355
All CDC protocols for the NIRC methodologies will be available to applicants who have submitted a letter of intent to apply.
National Influenza Reference Center RFP will provide detailed information in regards to this request, please read it in its entirety. Additionally, feel free to contact Melissa Warren at email@example.com with any questions.
Questions and Answers
What is the difference between requirements number 3 and number 6 in the background section of the RFP?
A: They are essentially saying the same thing. Number 3 is specifying the tool to be used to synchronize to get the data there (S3 utility synchronization tool). Number 6 is reiterating that you must be able to share and store the data in within the AIMS cloud environment, but they are both pointing to the fact that you must be able to get data to and store it in the AIMS environment.
Is there an expected “go live” date for the selected laboratories or is that negotiable?
A: Yes, selected laboratories are expected to begin NIRC services on October 1, 2020.
Is reimbursement money provided to PHL after testing or could some or all be fronted before testing begins?
A: Compensation is provided as reimbursement to reference centers at a per specimen rate. Awardees will have a contract with APHL with scheduled invoicing on a monthly basis. Based on the strength of applicants, limited financial support may be provided for procurement for instrumentation required for sequencing or HINT methodologies. Procurement needs will be assessed on a case by case basis. A MiSeq is required for this project and will not be purchased by APHL.
Is the CDC ready to offer the MDCK cell lines or would labs get them from ATCC or other vendors? If so, would they be available before selections are made?
A: Yes, CDC would provide the cell lines to selected laboratories. A MTA is required for the MDCK-SIAT cells. The cell lines would be available through the CDC’s International Reagent Resource.
Any use of electronic ordering mechanism for submitting to reference centers?
A: The NIRCs do not use ETOR, but it is a synchronized automation of data transfer initiated from the MiSeq. For receiving specimens, NIRCs are emailed Influenza Specimen Submission forms (Microsoft Excel spreadsheets) from submitters and those are uploaded into a web based application (CLAW). There are a couple of fields that would be filled out by the NIRC once specimens are received. There is no personally identifyable information on the forms.
Is there a preference between the QIAxcel and the Agilent Tape Station?
A: QIAxcel is utilized in the protocols used by the NIRCs; Tape station does not quite have the throughput capabilities for this project.
Is this RFP a recomepete of the current reference centers or an expansion to additional sites?
A: This is a recompete of the current reference centers. The three awardees will be the only National Influenza Reference Centers.
Do you have MS Word versions of the response table in Appendix C?
Please define BSC in the question 4 table in Appendix C.
What is the URL for the Contract Laboratory Accessioning Webtool (CLAW)?
A: The site can be accessed by commonly used web browsers, but works best in Chrome. CLAW requires a secure log in by provisioned accounts. At this time, we are only approving access to awardees. We can provide screenshots of the site to address specific concerns.
What are the technical specifications for Clarity LIMS and Tableau Online?
A: These are both cloud hosted applications that run through a web browser. For Tableau online you only need a web browser. This is similar for laboratory tracking in Clarity LIMS, but the browser needs to specifically be either Chrome or Firefox, rather than Internet Explorer. For sequence data analysis, the sites need to have the Amazon Workspaces application installed. Clarity does require port 443 and potentially port 8443 to be open, at a minimum.
How is the data electronically transmitted? What is the size of the transmission?
A: The data is transmitted incrementally from the local storage. The AWS Command Line Interface Tools will need to be installed on a server with access to the MiSeq runs. Please see the below two documents for an overview of AIMS, the AIMS S3 Client and clarification on the steps required to install and configure the AIMS S3 Client.
It is also possible to use the Amazon Web Services (AWS) CLI interface or one of the AWS SDKs (Java, .NET, etc) to connect to the AIMS S3 location. The AIMS S3 Client can be installed on either an individual computer or server. A lightweight utility, similar to an SFTP client is installed and used for secure data transport. APHL will provide support with the sync process.
Can you provide more clarification on the requirement for a tabletop port label printer certificates to be installed on the local computer’s certificate store?
A: In order for the certificate to be bound to a port for https traffic, they must be installed on the Local Computer’s Certificate Store. You will be provided step by step instructions with support from a developer if needed. A computer administrator will need to access the Microsoft Management Console to import the certificate and Command Prompt.