DHS drafts EAGLE replica for small businesses

DHS officials say they intend to create a new IT contract that would benefit some small companies.

The Homeland Security Department is working out details of a small-business version of its departmentwide information technology contract, the Enterprise Acquisition Gateway for Leading Edge Solutions, department officials said today. Soraya Correa, director of procurement operations office at DHS, said the new EAGLE II contract will be exclusively for small businesses. She expects the contract to have functional areas set aside for categories of small business, such as 8(a) companies, businesses owned by service-disabled veterans and firms located in historically underutilized business zones. She said it will allow the department to buy IT services from a specific category of small business.DHS officials are structuring the specific details, but they know the contract will replicate the current EAGLE contract, she said. To help in formulating the contract’s structure, DHS is expected to release a request for information on the EAGLE II contract in early 2009, Correa said. The initial EAGLE contract, which was awarded in 2006, had 28 small businesses, but 19 of them graduated out of small-business status or were acquired by another company, Correa said. Although EAGLE has several more years before again competing for spots on the contract, DHS wants to preserve other contracts for its small-business community, she said. Departmental leadership is paying attention to small-business contracting set-asides, officials said. Tom Essig, DHS' chief procurement officer, has sent memos throughout the department to help DHS' agencies find ways to reach their annual small-business contracting goals. “We don’t put the goals in place and then ignore them,” Essig said. In fiscal 2007, DHS reached four of five small-business contract goals. However, it failed to contract enough with service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses, according to figures from federal agencies. DHS had a goal of awarding 3 percent of its contracting dollars for that category of businesses. However, it only awarded 1.36 percent in fiscal 2007 — a slight decrease even from fiscal 2006, when it awarded 1.53 percent to veterans' businesses. Meanwhile. the government has failed to reach its goal of contracting with service-disabled veterans. In fiscal 2007, only 1.01 percent of federal dollars were awarded to those companies. However, the dollar amount increased from fiscal 2006, when 0.87 percent of dollars were awarded, according to figures from agencies.

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