DHS in final deliberations on FirstSource awards

It's been more than a year since the Homeland Security Department released the FirstSource small business set-aside technology commodity request for proposals. But now DHS is heading into the home stretch and expects to award the contract to multiple vendors by early December.

Sara Schroerlucke, associate director for DHS' IT Acquisition Center's Enterprise Solutions Office, said along with the contract award, which could be worth as much as $2 billion, her office will issue a FirstSource buying guide in December.

"FirstSource will help DHS components standardize its technology around the enterprise architecture," she said yesterday at a luncheon in Washington sponsored by the Association for Federal Information Managers. "Under FirstSource, customers also can get systems integration, training support, hardware and software customization and other things, which is different than other commodity contracts."

William Thoreen, who works in the contracting office for EAGLE, also said reports that DHS is telling small businesses that they have not won a contract are not true.

Schroerlucke emphasized that FirstSource's and DHS' other multiple award contract Enterprise Acquisition Gateway for Leading Edge (EAGLE) solutions are not governmentwide acquisition contracts and will not come under the control of the General Services Administration. GSA administrator Lurita Doan is on a mission to bring all GWACs under her agency's authority.

Schroerlucke said her office has awarded five task orders under EAGLE, which was awarded in July and August.

Both contracts will go far in making procurement more standard across DHS.

"We have eight procurement offices and added a ninth one to deal with Gulf Coast recovery," Thoreen said. "Procurement generally has focused on the mission of the parent agency. They provided local mission support and we missed a lot of opportunities for savings and to coordinate our purchases."

Thoreen said the IT Acquisition Center and now EAGLE and FirstSource will help conquer those challenges.

The buying guides for both contracts, for instance, will provide templates to write a statement of work, a service level agreement and a performance-based contract, Schroerlucke said.

"We will go the CIOs of the directorates and show how these templates can be used," she said. "We are looking at ways to refine and streamline the acquisition process."

The ESO also is providing components with jack-of-all-trades experts who are available to help out on acquisition strategy, budgeting, program management and other skills.

Schroerlucke added that the ESO will provide DHS managers with a more complete look at programs.

"We will develop a set of measures and reporting capabilities to give management visibility into all programs," Schroerlucke said. "We will give them information on how much their component has spent and with whom through these contracts."

The biggest challenge to give complete information to all managers is whether DHS can standardize on a contract management system for all components, Schroerlucke said. DHS headquarters uses Prism from Compusearch Software Systems Inc. of Dulles, Va., while other DHS bureaus use either different systems or different versions of Prism.

"We are working on getting everyone on the same system," she said.

Jason Miller is assistant managing editor of Washington Technology's affiliate publication, Government Computer News.

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