DHS IT brass push new buying programs

Homeland Security Department officials urged industry and small businesses today to participate in two new information technology procurement programs the department will soon start.

DHS has released draft RFP’s for First Source, for IT commodities, and for Enterprise Acquisition Gateway for Leading Edge (EAGLE), which would handle IT support services.

DHS spends $6 billion a year on IT and wants to spend as much of that as possible through those programs over the next five years, Greg Rothwell, DHS’ chief procurement officer, told a packed audience of several hundred industry representatives in Washington, D.C.

DHS’ IT Acquisition Center will work with the Chief Information office and DHS’ eight procurement offices, Rothwell said. DHS will create an Enterprise Solutions office to help run the programs, he said.

The department wants to leverage its infrastructure to improve information sharing, security and assurance, DHS CIO Scott Charbo said. It also wants to get more projects off the drafting table and on the street, on time and on budget.

“We have enough [Microsoft] PowerPoints. Let’s start delivering,” Charbo said.

The programs will help DHS consolidate its eight procurement shops, each with its own IT infrastructure, said U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Ron Hewitt, who was acting deputy CIO and steward of the department before Charbo took over in July.

Hewitt was scheduled to return to his post as the Coast Guard's assistant commandant for command, control, communications, computers and IT today.

To encourage participation by small businesses, First Source and EAGLE will each have open bid solicitations and solicitations just for small businesses.

“Today is a big day for small business at DHS,” said Kevin Boshears, director of DHS’ Office of Small Business and Disadvantaged Business Development Utilization.

EAGLE contracts will have a five-year base with two one-year options for renewal, said Bill Thoreen, contracting officer in charge of EAGLE procurement, said. Vendors can submit proposals for any or all of the five categories, he said.

But bidding will be competitive, Thoreen said. “This won’t be a ‘everybody gets a contract’ type of procurement,” he said.

EAGLE will leverage DHS’ buying power to get the best services at the best prices possible, said Michael Smith, contracting officer for First Source. DHS wants a fast, easy, effective way to access vendors’ online catalogs and pay with government purchase cards, he said.

DHS plans to issue the First Source and EAGLE RFP’s in early September and award contracts in early 2006. Rothwell said he expects to finish both programs within nine months.

Once the RFPs are released, DHS anticipates holding two pre-proposal conferences for EAGLE within 10 days of the final RFP release, with a conference for small business owners only.

DHS will still accept written comments for both RFP’s at dhsfirstsource@dhs.gov and dhseagle@dhs.gov, respectively, until Aug. 26.

Interested vendors can get more information about both programs at www.dhs.gov/openforbusiness and www.fbo.gov.

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