DHS behind the curve on competition

Fewer than a third of the $11.5 billion in contracts awarded by the Homeland Security Department in fiscal 2007 were approved after full and open competitions, according to figures from the USAspending.gov Web site.

The 27.2 percent of contracts DHS awarded competitively last year was an increase over fiscal 2005 and 2006, when the percentage of competitive bids dipped to 15 percent and 17.5 percent, respectively. Democrats in Congress, including Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, have criticized DHS for its low level of competitive bidding.

Overall, the bulk of contracts from fiscal 2004 through the first quarter of fiscal 2008 were awarded after one bid or no bids. The only exception was the department's first year of operation ? fiscal 2003 ? in which 53 percent of the contracting was by competitive bidding.

The number of contracts awarded has grown, with a sharp increase after Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. Last year, the department conducted 16,000 transactions with 78,000 contractors.

DHS awarded the following amounts to the 10 companies that did the most contracting work in fiscal 2007:
  • $562 million to Integrated Coast Guard Systems, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp.
  • $360 million to IBM Corp.
  • $347 million to L-3 Communications Corp.
  • $315 million to Unisys Corp.
  • $292 million to Science Applications International Corp.
  • $265 million to Boeing Co.
  • $240 million to Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.
  • $192 million to Accenture Ltd.
  • $191 million to Lockheed Martin.
  • $188 million to General Electric Co.

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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