DHS pursues performance

The Homeland Security Department is employing performance-based contracting methods, a move consistent with the organization's use of commercial best practices.

The Homeland Security Data Network, for example, was recently retooled as a performance-based project. Department officials pulled back the initial version of its solicitation and rewrote it as a statement of objectives.

In performance-based contracting, a statement of objectives describes an agency's business problem and lets bidders define solutions and set performance standards. DHS' U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator (US-VISIT) program, meanwhile, offers a similar story.

"In some ways, it's a performance-based contract," said Ray Bjorklund, a vice president with Federal Sources Inc. The border protection program's request for proposal does not tightly specify technical solutions or architecture.

Joseph Atick, president and chief executive officer of biometrics vendor Identix Inc., said DHS' approach on US-VISIT "shows respect for the diversity of ideas" among contractors. Identix officials

hope to land a subcontracting role

on US-VISIT.

Some observers think US-VISIT, as a high-visibility project, will influence the direction of other DHS procurements.

"It's a flagship program for the way the whole department is going to work," Bjorklund said.

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