DHS changes direction

With Spirit canceled, contractors seek new paths into department

Ken Susskind of 3H Technology said Spirit's cancellation was a setback to the firm's business plan.

Rick Steele

Sandy Gillespie of Lockheed Martin Corp. said the company is focusing on existing DHS contracts while looking for new ones.

Rachael Golden

For 3H Technology LLC, the Homeland Security Department's planned $5 billion Spirit program offered a chance to secure a firm toehold in the new department.

The Vienna, Va., small business began making plans in late 2002 to pursue Spirit, shorthand for Security Planning and Integrated Resources for Information Technology, when the procurement appeared as a solicitation for the Coast Guard, said Ken Susskind, vice president of business development at the company specializing in IT support services.

The company formed a team of more than 20 small and large IT integrators, niche solution providers and strategic vendors to provide the wide range of IT services envisioned under Spirit, he said.

But Spirit's cancellation at the end of July means that 3H Technologies and the hundreds of other potential bidders must revamp their strategies for getting DHS business by relying on the department's existing contracts or winning new contracts when they come out next year.

"The cancellation of Spirit was a disappointment and a business plan setback for our company, as well as for many of our teammates," Susskind said. "It offered the opportunity for many small and small-disadvantaged businesses to win a major contract vehicle with DHS and bring many new technologies to assist on the war on terror."

Spirit was one of many megacontracts that DHS planned in its effort to consolidate the technology platforms of its 22 agencies and fulfill its primary mission to fight terrorists and respond to natural disasters. According to Input Inc., a Reston, Va., government IT research firm, approximately 350 vendors expressed an interest in participating in Spirit. The five-year contract would have had multiple winners that would have competed for task orders.

DHS put Spirit on hold in May to re-evaluate whether it was needed in light of contracts and future procurements that could fulfill the department's IT needs instead. When Spirit was canceled, Greg Rothwell, DHS' chief procurement officer, said the department would look at existing vehicles for IT services and would create an office for IT acquisitions to consolidate procurements and cut costs.

[IMGCAP(2)]The department's specific plans are unclear. Rothwell also said DHS was developing a new departmental strategy for acquisitions that would stress integration across all its agencies.

DHS also anticipates that it will issue many IT support contract awards in 2005, according to the FedBizOpps Web site, which lists federal procurement opportunities of more than $25,000.

Near-term, DHS will use government-wide contracts as much as possible, although down the road the agency will create an IT Acquisition Center of Excellence that will draw on the expertise of its procurement and technology communities, said a source with knowledge of the department's plans.

As 3H Technology readjusts its strategy to get IT work from DHS, it will pursue a combination of prime contracts and subcontracts, establish mentor-protégé relation- ships with large companies supporting DHS and use partnerships it already has with other IT companies, Susskind said.

SiloSmashers Inc., a Vienna, Va., management and technology consulting firm that was interested in subbing on Spirit, will look for prime contractors that hold DHS contracts and "try to convince them to bring us on their contract," said Joseph Gawlik, the company's vice president of business development.

SiloSmashers also will have to do more on its own to get DHS work, especially because many of DHS' IT contracts don't have tasks or labor categories for the company's services, which include business process re-engineering, change management and organization modernization, Gawlik said.

"Spirit had those requirements in the Management Analysis and Planning functional area, and we don't see that in other DHS contracts," he said.

Large systems integrators and IT companies also plan to use existing contract vehicles and new ones to get more IT work from DHS.

Capgemini, an international provider of consulting, technology and outsourcing services that was interested in Spirit as a prime or a subcontractor, plans on using DHS' program management support services contract, said David McGill, an account executive at Capgemini Government Solutions LLC of Vienna, Va.

Earlier this year, the company was one of five firms to win the five-year blanket purchase agreement worth $25 million, $5 million per company. Under the contract, Capgemini helps the government manage the implementation of various programs and puts in place an automated system that lets management track the status of these initiatives.

Lockheed Martin Corp. is concentrating on existing DHS contracts as well as possible new contracts, said Sandy Gillespie, vice president of civil integration and technical services at Lockheed Martin Information Technology. Gillespie, who oversees the contractor's DHS and Justice Department business, declined to say which contracts the company would use.

"We have a number of existing vehicles, but we need to be armed and ready to identify additional vehicles to pursue additional contracts," she said.

Staff Writer Roseanne Gerin can be reached at rgerin@postnewsweektech.com.

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