Tessada to aid DHS agencies

The Homeland Security Department has grappled with many highly publicized and criticized procurement issues in its short existence.

To counter that criticism, DHS has awarded a five-year unrestricted contract worth as much as $187 million to help the department improve its Office of Procurement Operations.

One of the nine award winners of the blanket purchase agreement for acquisition support services was Tessada and Associates, a company owned by a service-disabled veteran in Springfield, Va.

Tessada can help DHS agencies determine requirements and solicit the documents necessary to make successful acquisitions, said Jim Carroll, principal consultant at Tessada.

“This contract was issued in part because [DHS] has been under fire somewhat over the last several years,” said Paul Young, vice president of strategic development at Tessada.

Critics say DHS’ contracting problems stem mainly from poor planning for major emergencies, procurement difficulties and a fractured purchasing system. They cite as an example DHS’ exuberant spending to train Transportation Security Administration screeners, which cost about $600 million more than originally expected.

“Our job as a support contractor is to bring [DHS] more expertise,” Carroll said. “They are looking to us for consistency in procedures and quality.”

He said he believes DHS has begun to fix its problems, including strategic sourcing issues. “Our job is to help them build more quickly on [those] initiatives that they have begun to put in place.”

The multiple-award, departmentwide contract will help DHS generate business case analyses and devise budgets for its major information technology and non-IT initiatives.

“One of the elements of the BPA that makes it particularly valuable to DHS is that any of the agencies within DHS are authorized to place orders under the BPA,” Carroll said. So Tessada and the eight other consultants on the BPA can quickly provide help to the department for its new initiatives.

“The point being, we have a number of contacts depending on which agency we’re dealing with, which speeds up the DHS procurement process,” he said.

“What I think you are seeing virtually across DHS is all the procurement shops in all the agencies are looking for ways to streamline yet make sure they are very, very consistent with, and in compliance with,” the Federal Acquisition Regulation, he said.

Elaine Duke, DHS’ chief procurement officer, said she intends to use the department’s vast buying power via strategic sourcing and supplier management throughout the department’s eight contracting offices.

“As a maturing organization, DHS faces challenges in conveying to its components the importance of consolidating requirements and collaborating procurement efforts,” she recently told the House Government Reform Committee.

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