DHS defends sole-source software buy

The department purchased risk-assessment software from SEMS Technologies

The Homeland Security Department has disclosed that it awarded a $782,000 sole-source contract to a Georgia software firm to update the risk-assessment software of rural water utilities.

Department officials said they need to update and add enhancements to the Security Emergency Management Systems (SEMS) Tool to make it compliant with risk-management strategies. The SEMS Tool currently is being used by about 25,000 rural water utilities.

Department officials published a “Justification & Approval” document online on July 17 explaining why it chose to select SEMS Technologies LLC of Suwanee, Georgia to perform the work.

“SEMS Technologies LLC is the sole author and owner of the source code for the SEMS Tool. As the source code is proprietary software, the enhancements and upgrades can only be completed by the owner of the software,” the justification document states.

Under the Competition in Contracting Act of 1984, departments are required to justify contracts that are awarded without full and open competition. The DHS said it was complying with that requirement.

The award to SEMS Technologies is for $232,000 for 15 months, with four option periods totaling three years and nine months. The maximum value if all options are exercised is $782,000.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

Reader Comments

Thu, Jul 23, 2009

I have to agree. This isn't news ... as written. Perhaps the story really is either: a. DHS didn't originally publish the sole source statement as required (the story mentions the date, possibly implying this). b. The author thought that it wasn't sole source because the possibility existed that DHS could purchase entirely new software and deploy it. It seems self evident from the sole source statement that this would be a huge waste of time of both the government to solicit bids and the vendors who submitted bids against an already installed competitor. Or c. the author couldn't find anything else to publish that day and had to meet some quota. (the stupid) In all cases, there seems to be some journalistic quality problems here.

Tue, Jul 21, 2009 Rich Fairfax, VA

The Gov posts J&As all the time for sole source contracts. This is hardly DHS "defending" their software buy, it's just a requirement. Scott hit the nail on the head: THIS ISN'T NEWS.

Tue, Jul 21, 2009 Scott McLean, VA

why is this a story?

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