DHS initiates programs to unify technology acquisitions

The Homeland Security Department late Tuesday announced two programs designed to better coordinate purchases of technology services and commodities.

"These programs, when fully in place, will satisfy the vast majority of DHS information task requirements," said Scott Charbo, the department's chief information officer, in a written statement. The support services initiative has been dubbed EAGLE, which stands for Enterprise Acquisition Gateway for Leading Edge solutions, and the commodities program has been named "First Source."

The initiatives will help move agencies within Homeland Security onto a common technology infrastructure, Charbo said. They will also help to standardize IT purchases across the department and will allow DHS to leverage its buying power, said Larry Orluskie, a spokesman.

Multiple contracts to large and small businesses will be awarded under both programs. Department officials have yet to issue requests for proposals, but plan to publish one for each program later this month. Those will contain more details on opportunities in each category, Orluskie said.

EAGLE and First Source are important because they will give Homeland Security more direct control over IT purchases, allowing the department to buy technology on its own terms rather than through supply schedules or interagency agreements, said Chip Mather, co-founder of Acquisition Solutions Inc., a consulting company in Oakton, Va. Homeland Security stands to save a substantial sum by avoiding the fees associated with schedule contracts or interagency agreements, Mather noted. Those fees can range as high as 10 percent.

The programs also could help out industry because they'll help to standardize the shopping process, Mather said. Companies will have a better idea of DHS' requirements and will have a direct point of contact there, he said.

While EAGLE and First Source don't fall under Homeland Security's strategic sourcing program, reporting requirements that are likely to accompany them will give the department greater visibility into who's buying what and how well the contracts are working, Mather said.

DHS initially planned to acquire technology services through a contract that originated in the Coast Guard, called SPIRIT (for Security Planning and Integrated Resources for Information Technology) and worth an estimated $5 billion. But the department canceled that agreement last August in favor of an "integrated departmentwide strategy for procuring IT services."

The EAGLE initiative will help meet that goal, Orluskie said. There is not yet an estimate for how much the contracts awarded under EAGLE and First Source will be worth.

Homeland Security's Information Technology Acquisition Center will run the programs and plans to hold an information session at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington on Aug. 16. The session will be open to government and industry officials.

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