IWN moves to second phase

General Dynamics, Lockheed will vie for $3B wireless contract

The Justice Department has selected General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin to compete on the design of a wireless network that will serve 80,000 users in law enforcement agencies nationwide, according to a statement released June 9.

The Integrated Wireless Network (IWN) is a joint effort by the Justice, Homeland Security and Treasury departments to create a wireless network spanning 2,500 sites that include cities, highways, land and coastal borders, and ports of entry.

Justice awarded the two companies indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contracts under which they will create designs and plans for implementation and pricing in a specific geographic area of the country and for the IWN system as a whole. Based on their performance, Justice will select one of the two firms to be the IWN integrator, according to a document outlining the procurement schedule.

IWN will provide secure and reliable wireless communications for voice, data and multimedia, according to the statement. It will serve federal law enforcement, homeland security and first responders, as well as state, local and tribal partners.

“By providing near-instant communication availability and system response, highly reliable communications, and physical and encryption security features that minimize interception of sensitive communications, IWN will make law enforcement and protective operations more effective, efficient and safe,” said Vance Hitch, Justice’s chief information officer, in the statement.

The announcement came as a surprise to experts in homeland security and law enforcement technology, who have been waiting for significant progress on the program since early 2003.

“It was a long time coming,” said Harlin McEwin, chairman of the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s Communications and Technology Committee. “I stopped paying attention to it because it kept dragging on and on and on.”

Ray Bjorklund, senior vice president and chief knowledge officer at Federal Sources, praised Justice’s choice of companies. “General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin have a lot of experience in large, complex communications systems that can be technology- and brand-agnostic,” he said.

In Phase 1 of the award competition, Justice weeded through proposals and whittled the field down to five potential bidders: AT&T, Boeing, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and Motorola. Motorola has a large market share in state and local first responder communications, Bjorklund said, but Justice wants IWN contractors to develop nonproprietary systems.

Each firm’s IDIQ contract has a five-year base period and two five-year option periods, but only the winning company is expected to continue through the entire term, a Justice spokeswoman said.

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