City of Chicago Awards USD 3m Contract to Language Select

On March 15, 2016, California-based Language Select won a contract from the City of Chicago for interpretation and translation services worth up to USD 3m over a period of three years. The contract’s primary purpose is for Chicago to give access to language services for the users of the city’s emergency and non-emergency telephone lines.

According to the 113-page contract reviewed by Slator, Language Select will provide round-the-clock telephone interpretation services for Chicago’s 911 center as well as customer assistance to callers from the Chicago O’Hare and Midway airports who do not speak English or speak limited English. The contract specifies that interpreters have to be available within 30 seconds of connection for emergency calls.

The City of Chicago is acting as the lead agency in this contract as part of the US Communities Government Purchasing Alliance. This means that participating partner agencies can use the same terms of the contract if they need the service.

Yes, Luxembourgeois Is Covered Too

The contract specifies that the contractor should be able to translate a minimum of 140 languages―including rather exotic ones like Mixteco, Papiamento, and Luxembourgeois. It also specified 20 core languages that must be available at all times.

The contract stipulates that Language Select’s recruitment process should comply with the guidelines set forth by the California State Personnel Board and be certified by the National Center for Interpretation at the University of Arizona. The contractor’s interpreters are also required to enroll in an ongoing training and continuing education program.

Language Select definitely does have a little bit of an operational challenge on its hands executing the contract.


The per-minute rate for Spanish telephone interpretation is USD 0.69, while the per-minute rate for other languages is USD 0.79. For onsite interpretation, the contractor can bill for the provision of Spanish bilingual interpreters at a standard hourly rate of USD 60, while certified medical interpreters bill at USD 95 per hour. Supplying court-certified interpreters bill at USD 150 an hour.

Documents that have a word count of 150 or less bill at a flat fee of USD 54―a dream for many language service providers juggling a series of mini-orders. If the word count exceeds 150, the per-word rate is USD 0.18.

Written translations have a comparatively generous turnaround time of five business days for routine documents, with 20 pages or less that require translation. For video remote interpretation services in Spanish, the contractor will bill a per-minute rate of USD 1.99, while other languages bill at USD 2.49 per minute.

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