FEMA seeks IT overhaul

Two and a half years after Hurricane Katrina exposed flaws in its computer systems, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is preparing to award a contract worth up to $1 billion to overhaul its information technology architecture and software.

The agency has been receiving bids for the Enterprise Application Development Integration and Sustainment (EADIS) program to create an integrated computer environment. The new enterprise architecture will run FEMA programs, including disaster assistance, preparedness grants and individual assistance.

FEMA's enterprise IT project is a multiyear program expected to cost at least $1 billion, according to Input Inc., a market research firm in Reston, Va. That estimate has been confirmed by several other industry and government sources.

The contract is to be awarded under the Enterprise Applications Gateway for Leading Edge Solutions (EAGLE) procurement vehicle, Input said. Bids were due Jan. 18.

According to industry insiders, General Dynamics Corp., IBM Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp. and Science Applications International Corp. have submitted bids, though that information could not be fully confirmed. The Homeland Security Department is expected to narrow the competition to two bidders shortly, and a final award is anticipated later this year.

FEMA Chief Information Officer Anthony Cira is spearheading the enterprise IT project. He declined to comment, citing confidentiality rules that apply during the source selection process.

FEMA has been operating on aging, poorly connected IT systems for many years. Those shortcomings contributed to the federal government's failures in responding to Hurricane Katrina, according to a report that DHS Inspector General Richard Skinner issued in April 2006.

In addition to difficulties with communication networks damaged by the storm, FEMA was hampered by the lack of a common IT system to collect and distribute information during the response and recovery efforts, the inspector general said.

The National Emergency Management Information System also is anticipated to be included in the enterprise IT project, according to industry sources. The NEMIS database is a core program for FEMA response and recovery.

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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