Vendors have until Nov. 30 for OneNet bids

The Homeland Security Department has extended vendor bids for its OneNet contract a third time.

Industry and agency sources confirmed that the new due date is Nov. 30. DHS' original date for vendors to submit proposals was Oct. 5.

DHS issued a task order under the General Services Administration's Networx for OneNet, the department's future intranet for sensitive but unclassified information, in August and expected to make an award by April 2008, according to the solicitation.

Industry sources have suggested that the delay may be a part of questions raised about DHS identifying specific brand-name industry products in the OneNet statement of work.

"Some people are trying are get this issue resolved and DHS is refusing to do deal with the issue," said an industry official who requested anonymity.

According to the OneNet statement of work, DHS names products from Cisco, IBM, Packeteer and other companies that it currently uses.

"The products discussed in this document represent a 'best of breed' approach to network management," the document states.

However, at issue is OMB's 2005 memo prohibiting agencies from putting specific brand names in procurements unless there is a specific justification that must be published with the solicitation.

DHS did not publish any specific justification, industry sources say.

A DHS official disputed the claim that the department delayed the procurement because of questions about brand-name specifications.

"As far as the 'brand name' question, none of the Networx contractors submitted questions concerning brand-name specifications," said the official, who requested anonymity because the official didn't receive permission to talk about the procurement. "Where referenced in the work statement, brand-name or proprietary information technology represents already provisioned, installed and/or deployed information technology within the DHS network infrastructure."

The official added that any of the three Networx vendors may propose the use of other than brand-name IT products provided they are fully compatible and operational with existing DHS network infrastructure and the requirements of the statement of work.

The delay, the official said, was due to the successive question-and-answer periods between DHS and the contractors.

The task order asks vendors to develop a single network and infrastructure to enable DHS' component agencies to share data with any employee authorized to receive the information.

However with the third due date extension, industry sources say the agency's timeline may be extended.

DHS and the Treasury Department were the first agencies to open task orders through GSA's $48 billion Networx Universal contract.

Jason Miller writes for Government Computer News and Federal Computer Week, 1105 Government Information Group publications.

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