Bright outlook projected for DHS technology services contract

Market researchers say the Homeland Security Department's major information technology contract vehicle will get more business in the coming year as the department consolidates operations and its component agencies address key initiatives.

DHS' platform for acquiring IT services, known as Enterprise Acquisition Gateway for Leading Edge, or EAGLE, has garnered $575 million under 49 task orders as of July, according to the Chantilly, Va.-based market research firm INPUT. Researchers expect the number of orders and their value to increase in fiscal 2008.

"How is the outlook for EAGLE in '08? Promising," said Jeremy Potter, an INPUT senior analyst overseeing research on Defense Department and DHS contracting opportunities.

Speaking at an online seminar on EAGLE's prospects, Potter said DHS and contractors can expect $1 billion in task orders over the next 12 months. The platform has a $45 billion ceiling over seven years.

Several initiatives launched by DHS and its component agencies are likely to play a part in EAGLE's anticipated growth. Potter listed DHS' Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative and the Customs and Border Protection bureau's Secure Border Initiative among such projects.

IT systems acquisitions related to Homeland Security's $3.26 billion headquarters consolidation project also could fall under EAGLE.

Potter said there are several reasons why officials at DHS agencies are looking favorably on EAGLE. For starters, since task orders under the contract do not have to be fully competed, EAGLE is relatively efficient.

"It saves time and resources and there is a quicker turnaround in awards, so not only is it efficient, it's a quick solution," Potter said.

There are other governmentwide acquisition contracts for IT services, such as those provided by the General Services Administration, but INPUT has found that many agency contracting officers prefer to keep procurements in-house.

In addition, while vendors can protest changes to the terms or requirements of the overall EAGLE contract vehicle, they are not permitted to protest individual task order awards. This guarantees that contracting officers who choose EAGLE can avoid what is sometimes a lengthy protest process.

DHS organizations are not required to use EAGLE for IT services procurements, but they are required to analyze whether the contract vehicle fits their needs. According to Potter, with the encouragement DHS is giving its component agencies and the platform's benefits, agencies are falling in line behind EAGLE.

"We're expecting that the component organizations will continue to feel the pressure and the need to use EAGLE," Potter said.

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