Homeland Security takes action
Industry readies for two major contracts<@VM>New DHS Web site seeks innovative technologies<@VM>DHS contracts<@VM>U.S.-Canadian border secured by smart video<@VM>ISO: Hot homeland security techniques
- By Washington Technology Staff
- Aug 28, 2003
U.S. Visit "will measure the success of the department." ? Ben Gianni of Computer Sciences Corp.
"If you aren't on [Spirit], you're on the outside looking in." ? John Lauder of NCI Information Systems
The Spirit contract "has really taken its true form since the agency came together. DHS is trying to give it a philosophy and a context." ? Mark Heilman of Anteon International
It's no secret that the homeland security market hasn't created a deluge of business for many government contractors. Spending on new initiatives has not matched expectations, and the Homeland Security Department has been slow in taking shape.
But the new department, barely six months old, is now gearing up for two massive procurements that could start the ball rolling on what many still regard as a lucrative market.
One project, U.S. Visit, will be won by a single team to build a system to monitor and track foreign nationals as they enter and exit the country. Estimates of its value range from $1.5 billion to $10 billion, depending on the final scope of the project and its length. U.S. Visit represents the first major test of the agency's ability to carry out its mission.
"This project will measure the success of the department," said Ben Gianni, vice president of homeland security, at Computer Sciences Corp., El Segundo, Calif.
The second contract, Spirit, will be a multiple-award deal with winners drawn from small and large businesses. This contract, industry officials said, will likely be the vehicle of choice as the department's subagencies and offices build their internal systems and networks. Spirit's estimated value is $10 billion over 10 years.
Winning a spot on Spirit is absolutely crucial for companies that want to do business with the department's agencies.
"If you aren't on it, you're on the outside looking in," said John Lauder, senior vice president and general manager for NCI Information Systems Inc., McLean, Va.
[IMGCAP(2)]Other contracts also are in the works, such as the Transportation Workers Identification Credential, parts of the Starlight contract and a deal for a secure data network that is expanding from a Customs Service only project to an agencywide project, sources said.
Homeland Security is expected to spend $2.4 billion on information technology this year, but that will rise to $3.4 billion in fiscal 2004, according to Federal Sources Inc., a McLean, Va., market research firm. The department is expected to be the fourth biggest IT spender among civilian agencies, and is the fastest growing at 24.8 percent between 2003 and 2004.
"The bow wave of opportunities is just ahead of us," said Renato DiPentima, president of consulting and systems integration at SRA International Inc., Fairfax, Va.
The competition for U.S. Visit, which stands for United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology, could turn into a one-on-one match between Lockheed Martin Corp. and Computer Sciences Corp. Both have announced their core teams.
A third team, led by Northrop Grumman Corp. may emerge, but company officials said they have not decided yet if they will pursue the contract as a prime.
Biometrics and smart-card technologies will play a major role in the U.S. Visit project. The system will identify people who should not be allowed entry as well as those who have overstayed their visas.
The Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002 mandated the system and set several milestones, including the collection of biometric information from visitors entering this country by air and sea by the end of this year. By October 2004, the United States will be issuing biometric travel documents.
The task is daunting: During fiscal 2002, more than 228.5 million crossings occurred at U.S. borders via land, air and sea. That's a lot of tracking.
And congressional scrutiny has been intense. About $380 million was appropriated in fiscal 2003 for the project, but only $116 million has been released so far. The rest is to be released in September if congressional leaders are satisfied with DHS' plans. The request for proposals cannot be released until that money is approved.
Dick Fogel, capture manager of the project for Lockheed Martin, wants the competition to begin as soon as possible. "The later the RFP comes out, the harder it will be to meet the deadlines," he said.
Lockheed Martin's team includes Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., Harris Corp., IBM Corp., MSD Inc., Science Applications International Corp., SI International Inc. and Unisys Corp.
The CSC team includes Electronic Data Systems Corp., Northrop Grumman's Mission System unit, Arinc Inc. and Bechtel National Inc. Northrop Grumman's Mission System unit was created from the former TRW Inc. and signed onto CSC's team before being acquired by Northrop Grumman.
If Northrop Grumman decides to pursue the contract as a prime, it will build internal walls to separate the Mission Systems unit from the group pursuing it as a prime, said Steve Carrier, vice president for business development and strategic planning for Northrop Grumman's information technology unit.
"For sure, we are a sub to CSC," he said. "We are totally involved in the program."
Many companies have worked on border and visa processing projects in the past, so one of the challenges, executives said, will be getting the current systems to connect as well as building new systems.
The department describes the project as a "system of systems," and estimates that there are at least eight agencies within Homeland Security that must work together as well as outside agencies such as the departments of State, Justice and Transportation, various intelligence and law enforcement agencies and other countries.
"DHS' success is critical, not only for national security but also for economic security," Gianni said.
Like U.S. Visit, the roots of the Spirit contract pre-date the formation of the Homeland Security Department. Originally, the Coast Guard was developing it as a task order contract for acquiring a variety of information technology services.
The Coast Guard began work in November 2002, but in March, DHS decided to make it a departmentwide contract, though its use is not mandatory. The RFP is expected this month, with an award by July 2004.
Industry welcomed the broadening of the contract both as a bigger business opportunity and as a sign that DHS is trying to consolidate its procurement operations.
[IMGCAP(3)]"The contract has really taken its true form since the agency came together," said Mark Heilman, executive vice president of corporate development at Anteon International Corp., Fairfax, Va. "DHS is trying to give it a philosophy and a context." Anteon is planning to bid as a prime contractor on the contract.
Spirit will have four functional areas: information management, analysis and planning; information systems engineering and design; information systems operations and management; and information systems security.
"It is important to be on it to keep serving our customers in the department," said Paul Leslie, president and chief operating officer of ITS Services Inc., Springfield, Va., which has customers in the Secret Service and the Bureau of Border and Customs Protection. "But it also is a vehicle that will give us access to other parts of the agency," he said.
NCI is also chasing Spirit. The company, which has virtually no experience with the 22 agencies that were combined to form DHS, hired Lauder in April to grow its homeland security business. He is a former vice president at Affiliated Computer Services Inc.'s government unit, where he was responsible for $1 billion in government sales and contract awards
"We aren't a large player," he said. "But what the contract gives us is permission to market our services and explain what kind of company NCI is."
But coming in as an outsider is a challenge, Lauder said. "You can't walk in and say, here are our capabilities. You have to have a solution that addresses their problems," he said.
ON THE HORIZON
Although much of the procurement activity for departmentwide acquisitions at Homeland Security has focused on U.S. Visit and Spirit, individual DHS agencies are generating significant work as well, executives said.
The Transportation Security Administration has a major contract in the works called the Transportation Workers Identification Credential. A pilot program involving 10,000 transportation workers is expected this fall. Maximus Inc. of Reston, Va., is evaluating biometric technologies that can be used in the pilot for government, contractor and private-sector workers at transportation facilities.
Anteon is a subcontractor to Maximus and is considering bidding on the project as a prime as it moves forward, Heilman said. He estimated the value of the program at $300 million to $600 million, depending on the scope and the number of cards issued.
Many companies also are hoping to pick up the remaining portions of the Starlight contract, a $1.2 billion contract for professional services, coming out of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. The contract was broken into seven lots. The three remaining lots are for enforcement systems, benefits systems and records management. RFPs are expected in October, November and in March 2004.
Although DHS could rely on General Services Administration schedules and a variety of multiple-award, task-order contracts, the new agency can better establish a departmentwide approach to procurement by creating its own procurement contracts such as U.S. Visit and Spirit, executives said.
"It gives a way for the department to say, here's how we are going to buy goods and services," said Sandy Gillespie, vice president of homeland security for Lockheed Martin's information technology business.
This push for consolidation has delayed several contracts and caused others to be put on hold, such as Next Generation Unattended Ground Sensors; Atlas, an IT infrastructure contract that started under the former Immigration and Naturalization Service; and Disaster
Help.gov, a disaster management portal.
"All of these are on hold to see if they can be part of one of these other procurements," said SRA's DiPentima.
The delays have caused frustrations. The Progressive Policy Institute, the Democratic Leadership Council's think tank, gave the Bush administration a D grade for not moving fast enough to address homeland security.
But the delays at DHS have not surprised many industry veterans, because the department is trying to integrate the agencies that were pulled together to create the department.
"You have to remember the department itself has only been in business a few months. Doesn't it seem a lot longer?" said Wally Kaine, senior vice president of homeland security at SAIC. Homeland Security officially came into being Jan. 24, but all the component agencies didn't come under it until March 1.
Organizing and integrating the 22 agencies combined to create it will take time, executives said. Several compared the task to a massive, private-sector merger. Spirit and U.S. Visit are both signs and tools of the department's integration, they said.
"They want go from being a holding company to a corporation," Kaine said. "These contracts are the beginning of that transition." *Senior Editor Nick Wakeman
wrote this story.
The Homeland Security Department this month will launch a Web site for companies to tout their homeland-security related products and services to the new agency.
The department also has issued several broad agency announcements seeking innovative technologies, and will issue new announcements periodically, said Jane Alexander, deputy director of the Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency, part of the new department.
The announcements will be published on www.fedbizopps.gov, the federal Web site for new business opportunities, and on the Homeland Security Web site, www.dhs.gov.
Several new announcements are in development, Alexander said. In recent months, announcements have called for solutions in areas such as chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear countermeasures; explosives detection; infrastructure, personnel and physical security; and tactical operations support.
The Web site and broad agency announcements fulfill requirements of last year's legislation that set up the department, which officially stood up in January. Many executives of small information technology firms said the new initiatives could give them a boost in the federal IT marketplace.
Micheal Davis already has responded to a broad agency announcement, and said he would include his company on the new Web site. Davis is president and managing partner of Davis-Paige Management Systems LLC, a Fairfax Station, Va., firm that develops emergency response solutions.
"If people see what our capabilities are [on the Web site], it would be very easy to give us a call and have us come in and talk to them about what we can do for them," Davis said.
Despite the optimism about the new Web site, some in industry have their doubts about its effectiveness.
"It has the best of intentions, but it has its limits. It's not likely they are going to be able to keep it fresh and robust, updated. It is very difficult," said Lorraine Lavet, executive vice president and chief operating officer of AeA, a Washington-based technology industry association.
AeA last year developed an online directory used by some large systems integrators and government contracting officers to find companies with homeland-security technologies. About 3,100 companies are in the database; AeA staff work one on one with company owners to regularly update each firm's listing, Lavet said. [See related story.]
New broad agency announcements from the department will call for proposals from private-sector firms seeking to perform research and development and test and evaluation projects, Alexander said.
To get good results, the announcements will have to be very specific and clearly communicate the department's priorities, Lavet said. "Otherwise they will waste a lot of time on areas that are not productive," she said.
Lavet said she hoped to see announcements seeking knowledge management solutions. "There is no question we have to be smarter and faster, piecing information together so we know about a tragedy before it happens," she said.
Alexander said DHS will sometimes seek a product that performs a specific function and is used by a specific employee. Other times, the department might seek proposals for how a procedure might be conducted. In that case, "the end product would not be a specific box. We'd ask what it would take to get it to market," she said.
The department has received hundreds of unsolicited submissions for technology development, but very few have been accepted, Alexander said.
"We've been getting resumes, flyers about products, a huge variety of stuff. We are getting very few real proposals where they describe what they want to do," she said.
Companies that do want to submit an unsolicited proposal can do so via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. But Alexander said she would not recommend this approach.
"The problem is that we already have internal priorities that money is slotted against. Their chances of being funded are miniscule," she said. "And if they come in with a good idea but we are about to do a solicitation, we are probably going to wait until we've got responses to that [solicitation] and respond to everyone at the same time."
IT executives who responded to broad agency announcements are eagerly awaiting responses from the Homeland Security Department.
Davis-Paige Management Systems submitted several proposals in response to an announcement issued last spring that sought methods of detection and response to threats such as explosives and chemical attacks, as well as improved border protection. Contract awards could be made as early as October, according to DHS.
The proposals submitted by Davis-Paige Management Systems included solutions for protection of mass-transit command and control systems, and for distance education of emergency response personnel.
"There are opportunities out there; it requires that we go after and get them, especially when you are small. Large companies can wait for the big projects. We cannot," Davis said.
Davis also has pursued opportunities with local governments. For about a year, he has worked on grant proposals for federal homeland security funds with Atlanta and Cumberland County, N.C. If the grant applications are approved, Davis-Paige Management Systems will implement a nuclear, biological and chemical warning and reporting system for each government. Implementation costs are $3 million to $5 million, depending on the government's needs, he said.
"We know that the system works, so we went ahead and worked with the cities to help them write up their grant proposals and get approvals through the state, and sent them up to DHS," Davis said. "DHS hopefully will approve these and send the funding to do front-end analysis and then go into implementation."
"I've invested a lot of our dollars into this project," he added. "If smaller companies want to compete and be known, they have to invest themselves to demonstrate they have a good product. It's a bit of a gamble." *Staff Writer Gail Repsher Emery
wrote this story.
The U.S. Visitor and Immigrant
Status Indicator Technology
program (U.S. Visit)
Value: Estimates range from $1.5 billion to $10 billion
RFP: Expected by the end of the year, but Congress could delay the RFP's release.
Purpose: Build a system that can track non-U.S. citizens entering and leaving the country. The system will identify people before they enter, and stop those who should not come in. Biometrics will be used to establish identities. The system also will map the length of time foreign nationals stay in the United States and notify authorities if the visas have lapsed. U.S. Visit will share data and interoperate with systems from other agencies, including the departments of Justice, State and Transportation as well as intelligence, law enforcement agencies and other countries.
Bidders: Two companies have announced teams so far.
*Computer Sciences Corp. team
Bechtel National Inc.
Electronic Data Systems Corp.
Northrop Grumman Mission Systems
*Lockheed Martin Corp. team
Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.
Science Applications International Corp.
SI International Inc.
Value: $10 billion over 10 years
Purpose: Provide the agency with a broad range of IT services through a task order contract. Originally, a Coast Guard only vehicle, the procurement has been revamped and its scope widened as a DHS-wide contract. There will be multiple winners, including large and small businesses. Spirit has four functional areas, and companies may bid on one or more of them. The areas are:
*Information management analysis and planning support services, which include benchmarking, business process re-engineering, change management, CIO support and IT architecture support.
*Information systems engineering and design support services, which include database design, e-commerce support, information architecture analysis, research and development and independent verification and validation.
*Information systems operations and management support services, which include asset management, configuration management, connectivity and IT infrastructure support, mainframe support and seat management.
*Information systems security support services, which include computer security awareness and training, security planning, incident response, digital signatures and disaster recovery.At the Canadian border, the Homeland Security Department's Customs and Border Protection Bureau is using intelligent video surveillance technology to analyze arrivals.
"We needed a way of identifying intrusions on the border after normal hours of operation," said Bill Anthony, bureau spokesman.
The Video Early Warning system by ObjectVideo Inc. of Reston, Va., adds artificial intelligence to existing video recorders that monitor many border crossing sites around the clock. The recorders have tunable motion detection software.
"Any time motion is detected, you get an alert," Anthony said. But if the sensitivity is set too high, there are false alarms. If it is set too low, there is a chance of missing something.
VEW analyzes what is happening on the video feed in real time. "We establish a set of rules, and it notifies us when the rules are violated," Anthony said.
VEW, which went live in December 2002, grew out of a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency initiative on computer vision. The software learns the normal conditions of a view being captured by a camera and analyzes any other activity, said Alan Lipton, chief information officer for ObjectVideo.
"It can tell the difference between a squirrel running up a fence and a person climbing over," Lipton said. "This gives a low false-alarm rate."
The bureau defines events of interest by entering and updating a set of policies through a wizard interface. Each camera feed can have a separate policy, and there is no limit on the number of rules.
"It's up to the customer to come up with the rules," Lipton said. "VEW is not going to give you any alarm until you tell it what you're interested in."
The software comes pre-installed on a rackmount server running Microsoft Windows 2000 or XP, with Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet connections. One to four cameras connect directly to its video processor, and up to 20 processors are networked with the server for a maximum of 80 camera feeds.
"It is pretty much agnostic as to camera type, medium and environment," Lipton said. "You can distribute the architecture any way you want," with a central server analyzing multiple remote video feeds.
The server stores up to 4.8 terabytes of images in a searchable archive that can serve as a forensics tool.
The Border Protection implementation is part of the larger Northern Border Security Development Project, established after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
VEW underwent a one-week pilot test in January at four locations in Washington state. For security reasons, the bureau is tight-lipped about how much it has spent on the project and how many VEW systems are being installed where.
"Several," is all Anthony would say. But he added, "In the future, all land ports of entry will have them."William Jackson
, a reporter with Washington Technology's affiliate publication Government Computer News, wrote this story.About 350 government contracting officers and employees of large systems integration firms are using AeA's online directory of member companies selling homeland security technologies, up from 300 earlier this year.
Systems integrators including Harris Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp. and Unisys Corp., as well as government organizations such as the Transportation Department and the Coast Guard, have used the AeA database to find potential contractors and subcontractors, said Lorraine Lavet, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Washington-based technology industry association.
About 3,100 of AeA's 3,200 member companies are listed in the 40-field directory. The fields include previous experience in an agency; small-business status, such as woman-owned or 8(a); and North American Industrial Classification System codes, which designate the type of work the company performs. Companies also can add an unlimited amount of information about their work, including pictures and Web links, Lavet said.
"Government procurement officials want all of it," she said. "They are very busy people trying to meet their deadlines. If they identify companies that appear to meet their needs, they know who to call."
Many government databases list private-sector contractors, but updating the data regularly takes so much time that most agencies won't be able to keep their information current, Lavet said.
AeA staff members meet one on one with company officials at locations around the country in order to update the company listings and to help the officials understand what information government buyers find useful. The association's database is updated daily, Lavet said.
Procurement officers at the federal, state and local levels can use the database for free.