Ready, set, go: DHS mega deals

As the government's fiscal year winds to a close, at least one buyer appears ready to start fiscal 2007 with a bang ? and awards for two major contracts: SBI-Net and Eagle.

The Homeland Security Department is evaluating bids for the $2 billion Secure Border Initiative-Network contract. Staff Writer Alice Lipowicz presents the latest twists in that hot competition.

Her story takes us down the different roads the five teams have taken in negotiating SBI-Net's "make or buy" decision-making process. Members of nearly all the teams make products in addition to selling systems integration services.

There's been behind-the-scenes sniping among the teams, including trading accusations that other competitors simply will pick their own products rather than look for the best products available on the market. The companies defend themselves, with each explaining that it has processes to ensure the integrity of selections.

But it has a certain sound ? not unlike that of groundwork being laid for a future protest when DHS later this year announces a single winner of the contract.

Protests are very much at the heart of Staff Writer Ethan Butterfield's story on the small-business portion of DHS' second big-bang buy opening fiscal 2007: the Enterprise Acquisition Gateway for Leading Edge Solutions procurement. Awards apparently have been made, but DHS isn't talking because protests have been lodged. The department is trying to defuse those before formally announcing the winners.

The agency announced the large-business winners weeks ago, giving them a bit of a head start on the smaller companies. But task orders haven't yet started to flow. Come Oct. 1, however, look for the pace to pick up. If all goes well, DHS by then will have worked out the kinks in the small-business awards.

Eagle is an important contract, and not just because it will be a vehicle for lots of business for contractors. According to one executive, it might just be the mechanism that gives DHS some visibility into what it spends.

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