DHS seeks ERP system quotes

Homeland Security Department officials will soon issue a draft request for quotations (RFQ) for a multimillion dollar initiative for an enterprise financial and asset management system, according to the program director.

Catherine Santana, director of Resource Management Transformation Office, said the much-anticipated draft RFQ for the Electronically Managing Enterprise Resources for Government Efficiency and Effectiveness, or EMERGE2, program will be issued any day now at the FedBizOpps.gov site. It will remain posted online for two weeks until officials issue a final RFQ, but Santana does not expect any significant changes.

An award will be made in sometime around the end of July and then the selected vendor will conduct a conference-room pilot, which Santana described as "piloting the solution in a benign environment where we aren't affecting operations." Implementation will begin in phases in October.

"Those most in need are delivered first," she said in a telephone conference with reporters today. She said likely candidates might be DHS components, such as the Science and Technology and the Information Assurance and Infrastructure Protection divisions that were created a year ago.

DHS also introduced an electronic industry day prerecorded briefing today to explain the program's progress and provide other information. The 21-minute briefing is available on www.interactive.dhs.gov. Santana called that a great and novel idea with the advantage of reaching a broad audience quickly and cheaply.

The EMERGE2 program began last year when DHS officials said the department, composed of 22 agencies and 180,000 employees from other parts of the federal government, needed to follow a 21st-century business model. Santana's office was created to oversee the initiative and held an industry day late last year to outline it.

Representatives from several companies were helping the DHS office develop requirements for an enterprise resource management system, which will integrate budgeting, accounting, acquisition and grant management, e-travel and e-payroll solutions departmentwide.

At that time, however, several vendors expressed concerns that companies helping DHS define the common core requirements could bid on the project. Vendors feared the companies would make the requirements so specific that only those companies could meet them.

Santana said that they've created requirements on the logical level, meaning the level "in which we understand our business needs, we understand the rules about the business, we understand the information necessary to conduct the business and we know the roles that would perform the business."

The requirements do not define specific applications, solutions, functionality and technology as necessary, she said. They were also unanimously approved by representatives from the various DHS agencies and have gone through a rigorous vetting process.

The requirements "also allow the federal government to very easily adopt a commercial off the shelf (COTS) system. If you build requirements at such a level that they are specific and unique right down to data elements or exchanges of information...then we end up modifying COTS applications and not able to use it off the shelf. Our idea is build a level of requirements that our needs are identified and then we will do additional business process reengineering and requirements development."

The program's requested budget for fiscal 2005 is $56 million, and Santana said it will cost "several hundred million dollars" during the program's life cycle. She said industry standards indicate a major integrated solution in a comparable organization should deliver a 42 percent savings.

"While that's a high number, we'd like to shoot for 20 to 25 percent in our operations over time for the Department of Homeland Security," she said.

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