DHS strikes deals with industry

Department of Homeland Security

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Homeland Security Department officials are seeking help from the private sector to plan, manage and oversee various initiatives as they launch complex projects and programs to secure the nation against threats of terrorism and natural disasters.

DHS recently awarded a blanket purchase agreement to nine companies for program management support services. There's no stated maximum value or guarantee for the five-year contract, but agency officials estimate it could be worth $5 million a year.

Representatives from several companies said the department has not held briefings with them, but at least one said the first task order could be issued this month. Companies would have to compete for task orders. Several representatives said they liked DHS' approach of creating an enterprise model for program management.

"They're under a microscope," said David McGill, account executive for federal and civilian markets at Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, one of the nine awardees. "Everything they do is being watched very closely, so they're fast becoming the model for how things should be done."

As information technology governance becomes more stringent, officials at government organizations are realizing that the enterprise model is the best way to capitalize on limited resources, said Vik Mehta, vice president of marketing with CNSI, another contract winner.

"If you make everything into one enterprise, you're not using so many disparate systems," he said. "You're using [a] minimal amount of effort and resources toward a standardized infrastructure as well as an enterprise where everything is in sync and works together collectively."

The nine companies of various sizes bring different approaches to the table. James Dobbins, a program manager with the nonprofit ANSER Corp., said the organization's program management team has extensive experience working with other federal agencies, including the Defense Department. Because of their previous work, their employees already have the high-level clearances needed for sensitive projects, he said.

The ANSER team offers a variety of services, including change management, risk management, performance measurement, enterprise architecture and development of a concept of operations. CNSI, a small business, has a Web-based project management tool called As-One that it uses as the centerpiece of program management initiatives.

"It's a knowledge management tool as well," Mehta said. "From Day One, from the inception of a project...it's going to be placed in that. So it's like lessons learned as they keep reviewing that."

Cap Gemini officials, who say project management is baked into their DNA, have a collaborative business approach to creating a working plan called the Acceleration Solutions Environment, which McGill described as "a tool, a process and a methodology as well as a physical location."

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Making it better

Homeland Security Department officials tapped nine companies to provide program management support services:

ANSER Corp.

Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.

Cap Gemini Ernst & Young

CNSI

Performance Management Consulting Inc.

PricewaterhouseCoopers

Robbins-Gioia LLC

Titan Corp.

Veridian Corp.

And this is what DHS officials told the companies about the obstacles they would face:

The agency has a small staff in proportion to its projected portfolio.

It has legacy and interim management processes already in place.

DHS' size and complexity require time-sensitive coordination.

All work must conform to DHS security requirements.

Source: Homeland Security Department

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