The US State Department is Looking for 1,000 Translators and Interpreters

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken

In a notice published on the System for Award Management ( procurement site, the US Department of State (DOS) announced an intent to issue a blanket purchase agreement for language services provided directly by about 1,000 translators and interpreters.

The notice, which is not a call for proposals but an informational notice, explains that the DOS contracts directly with individuals based in the US to provide “interpreting, translating, and related services in support of diplomatic and foreign affairs activities at the highest levels of the U.S. Government.”

Regarding compensation, the notice states that the highest value of any individual agreement would be USD 150k, with each assignment valued at a maximum of USD 25k and the majority of assignments valued at or below USD 10k. The rates the DOS pays are not shared publicly, but the notice says that it uses market research to set fixed rates for specific language services.

Special Qualifications

If a call for proposals is issued, only those individuals who have already passed The DOS Office of Language Services (OLS) interpreting and/or translating skills exams for one or more foreign languages will qualify. These exams are offered by invitation only and are administered based on the needs of the DOS.

Additionally, interested parties would need to already hold what is called “a Basic Ordering Agreement” or “Purchase Order” from the OLS, i.e., be active contractors in the system. Also, active contractors would still need to bid for contracts under a blanket purchase agreement.

Bidders must be US. citizens or permanent residents and hold a current “Moderate or High-risk Public Trust Certification” from the State Department’s Office of Personnel Suitability and Security. 

Once a contract is awarded, the DOS does not guarantee assignments. To appoint an individual translator or interpreter, internal personnel consider evaluated skill sets, prior performance, and availability.