Ridge urged to shop outside Beltway

Two members of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee want to make sure that businesses outside the Beltway get a piece of the millions of dollars in information technology work for the Homeland Security Department.

The committee's chairwoman, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), and its ranking member, Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge urging him to tap business across the country as it purchases IT and other resources. "As you begin the process of coordinating the cost-effective procurement and integration of key systems, such as those related to information management and research and development, we urge you to take steps to utilize all of our nation's resources, especially those outside the Washington Beltway," the senators said in a March 13 letter.

As the department's procurement process moves forward, Collins said she wants to make sure the agency buys the best products at the best prices through competition nationwide.

"We also offer our help in making sure that the department implements significant safeguards against fraud, waste and abuse in the procurement process," the senators said.

The new department is expected to begin issuing requests for information and other procurement notices in about six weeks. Until then, vendors are asked to contact the current offices set up by the agencies that have been moved into the Homeland Security Department.

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