Northrop touts military network experience in SBI-Net bid

Northrop Grumman Corp. is highlighting its extensive experience in supporting military, border patrol and local emergency responder networks in its team's bid for the anticipated $2 billion Secure Border Initiative Network surveillance system contract.

Northrop Grumman leads one of five teams competing for the Homeland Security Department contract award, which is expected to be made this month.

Northrop Grumman's proposal provides for operational control of the U.S. borders and offers planning guidance for maintaining that operational control over time, company executives told Washington Technology.

"We can adapt to any of the changes on the border and the funding and political changes that take place," said Tom Arnsmeyer, vice president and program manager for Northrop Grumman's Secure Border team. "We think being flexible is important."

"To our knowledge, the ability to cross the domain between the Defense Department, federal and civil is something for which Northrop Grumman has a particular skill," added Bruce Walker, vice president of strategic planning for homeland security for Northrop Grumman.

Northrop Grumman is familiar with the daily challenges faced by DHS' Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers because it supports about 45,000 federal agents on an existing contract with networking, help desk and IT support, according to Walker and Arnsmeyer. The Technology Enterprise Automation Management contract was awarded to Northrop Grumman in 2002 and assists Customs and Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"We have a lot of people resident with CBP and ICE in many of the locations that need to be supported through SBI-Net," said Walker.

In addition, Northrop Grumman last month also won a five-year, $33.7 million contract to set up a border security surveillance system, along with networks, communications and command centers, at 40 land ports. The award by CBP is for a pilot project at 40 land ports, but DHS officials said it may be integrated into SBI-Net at a later date.

Northrop Grumman also has experience integrating and managing military networks. The company has installed perimeter surveillance systems at military bases, and has deployed border solutions in Iraq and Afghanistan, Walker said.

The Northrop Grumman team also has provided situational awareness tools in military environments, Arnsmeyer said. "Through our partners, SRA and General Dynamics, we are world renowned for having a situational awareness capability that is proven in a Defense Department environment, and which has been used and tied in with perimeter security here in the U.S.," he said.

As for first responders, Northrop Grumman has made extensive inroads in developing and implementing computer-aided dispatch systems for fire, police and emergency medical first responders. The systems generally handle 911 calls and assign personnel to respond to the calls. "One out of every four 911 calls is answered on a Northrop system," Walker said.

Northrop Grumman executives said they will provide proven technologies to keep border patrol agents safe and free up their time for the most important tasks. Northrop Grumman's solution provides for layered surveillance, increasing apprehension, improving processing and detention of detainees and managing the return of detainees to their home countries to reduce recidivism.

The Northrop Grumman team will initially bring in mobile capabilities, including ground radars and sensors on mobile platforms, integrated with the existing Customs and Border Patrol surveillance systems. By using mobile platforms initially, it will allow for speedy implementation and minimize the need for permanent infrastructure requiring permits and environmental approvals that could slow down the work, Walker said.

Northrop Grumman, which is based in Los Angeles, said it will use unmanned aerial vehicles as part of its solutions, as well as facial recognition technology at the land ports.

Northrop Grumman's team also includes General Dynamics Corp., L-3 Communications Titan Group, Anteon International Corp., SRA International Inc., and BearingPoint Inc. The team has architecture and engineering firms L. Robert Kimball & Associates of Ebensburg, Pa., and HNTB Corp. of Kansas City.

The company said it anticipates synergies if General Dynamics, one of its partners for SBI-Net, also wins the contract for the $3 billion Integrated Wireless Network. The joint project of the Homeland Security and Justice departments will build a nationwide wireless network for 80,000 federal agents, including border control agents. General Dynamics was recently selected as one of two finalists for the wireless network contract.

Because of General Dynamics' involvement in the wireless program, the Northrop Grumman team already has an understanding of how the wireless network may be used to help support SBI-Net, Walker said.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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