Swift and Harsh Process to Find Anti-Terrorist Technology

The screening process the Pentagon will use to judge new anti-terrorist technologies it called for last month "will be brief and harsh," said Jonathan Cain, an attorney for the law firm Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo P.C., during a breakfast briefing Nov. 17.

The Department of Defense's Oct. 23 issued a broad agency announcement that cast a wide net in its request for new techniques in fighting terrorism.

However, Cain, a contributing columnist to Washington Technology, said that the selection process to sort through the vast number of proposals will be exacting. The technology support working group examining the proposals must find the good ideas quickly and quickly dispose of those not directly aimed at their needs.

"This will be a compressed process," said Cain.

The first round of submissions is due Dec. 23. And the Defense Department plans on having the winning proposals developed and fielded within 12 to 18 months. Cain said projects could be funded as soon as March 2002.

Cain outlined tips for companies submitting proposals, saying evaluators likely will focus on:

* Technical approach. What is the current state of the technology? What are the current risks of such an approach? What are the technical qualifications of the team undertaking the work?

* Past performance. "This is a very significant evaluation criteria," Cain said. Small companies should submit examples of subcontracting work. Larger companies that have already worked on agency projects worth over $100,000 will be judged, in part, by prior agency evaluations of that work.

* Feasibility: Projects that do not have a high feasibility of working won't necessarily be ruled out, Cain said, but the proposal needs to have an accurate assessment of the potential risks. "If you downplay its risks, the evaluators will know that and grade you down," Cain said.

* Private partnerships. The Defense Department is "relatively less interested in projects where it bear all the risks," Cain said. Partnerships with commercial companies willing to underwrite some of the research is a selling point.

Cain also advised companies to be clear on the intellectual property rights pertaining to government research work.

Cain said he did not know how much the Defense Department intends to spend on individual projects, nor on the total for all projects combined. The announcement expressed interest in funding research on and then employing automated speaker recognition systems; tagging, tracking, locating and remote sensors; locating and identifying faces in video images; human video tracking; terrorist behavior and actions predictions technology; and developing an information integration center.

More information on the broad agency announcement can be found at http://www.bids.tswg.gov, under notice BAA#02-Q-4655.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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