DHS asks for Secure Border bids

SBInet Request for Proposals

The Homeland Security Department today released a much-anticipated request for proposals for the Secure Border Initiative. DHS officials tout the initiative as a comprehensive way to control the nation’s borders and enforce immigration laws. The department seeks to integrate the right mix of employees, infrastructure and technology at the northern and southern borders and official ports of entry.

The 144-page document came out somewhat later than expected. Officials at the Customs and Border Protection agency, which is directing the initiative, said they want to award a contract by Sept. 30. Solicitations are due by May 30.

The initiative, often referred to as SBInet, could cost the department as much as $2 billion, according to some estimates.

In the RFP, DHS states that it will award a three-year, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract. DHS will place performance-based task and delivery orders. The contract will have three one-year options. Its initial coverage area will include the southern and northern borders and the Great Lakes.

According to industry sources, DHS officials have narrowed the field of potential prime contractors to five: Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Boeing and Ericsson. A representative from DHS would not comment.

DHS officials unveiled the initiative last year. They offered additional details at an industry day in late January. Through the initiative, officials said they hope to develop an effective strategy to deal with illegal border crossings, especially by known or suspected criminals and terrorists.

“The entire immigration enforcement system requires review, beginning with the gathering of immigration-specific intelligence and the detection of illegal border crossings, followed by apprehension, processing, transportation and detention of the alien, and ending with the alien's removal from the USA,” according to the RFP’s statement of objectives.

“Adding agents at the border is insufficient unless we also can give them the technology they need and unless we contain and remove the aliens they catch,” the RFP states. “A systematic approach will deploy all of these tools in stages, allowing each stage to build on the success of earlier stages.”

DHS officials want to create a near real-time common operating picture (COP) of the border areas where illegal crossings can be detected, identified, classified according to threat level and addressed through an effective border agent response.

“The COP must provide a mechanism that communicates comprehensive situational awareness, including information incorporating intelligence-driven operations capabilities at all operational levels and locations,” according to the RFP.

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