DHS sees changes ahead for Eagle program

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article first appeared on FCW.com. Comments by DHS chief procurement officer Soraya Correa echo comments she made about the future of the Eagle program at a May Washington Technology DHS Industry Day event.

A little more than a year ago, the Department of Homeland Security cancelled a planned $1.5 billion agile-focused procurement.

At the time, DHS officials owned the failure publicly. Now, the failed Flexible Agile Support for the Homeland (FLASH) could get a new life, at least in parts, in the next DHS IT services contract now under development, according to the agency's procurement chief.

The agency is now developing a successor to its Security Enterprise Acquisition Gateway for Leading-Edge Solutions II (known familiarly as EAGLE II), which expires in 2020. Soraya Correa, chief procurement officer at DHS told FCW that some of the agile methodology the agency was experimenting with in FLASH is on the table for EAGLE II.

Correa said DHS is looking to incorporate federal category management and "best-in-class" contracting activities in the EAGLE II replacement, but also contracting vehicles with agile attitudes.

The EAGLE II successor hasn't officially been named. "We're calling it Flashy Eagle," Correa said.

FLASH was effective in its bold reach, with its short offering papers from vendors, technical demonstrations and selection processes, she said. Things went wrong, however, as the approach to the contract's documentation reverted to conventional waterfall-contracting methods, she said.

"Anytime you're being creative with IT, you might have failure," she said. The DHS procurement team that created FLASH "really stretched," she told FCW. "I wish we had been successful."

Correa said that intelligent, considered failures can push larger efforts forward.

"When we announced FLASH, we said we wanted to be creative and focus on innovation, as well as a creative way to simply processes and shrink the lead time for vendors," she said.

The initial reaction from the federal contracting community to the FLASH failure didn't generate the traditional criticism that can follow unsuccessful contract efforts, according to Correa.

"We got inquiries about why it happened and the outcomes," instead of a wave of criticism, she said. In the weeks and months following, the procurement chief said the agency also saw an uptick in interest in its Procurement Innovation Lab, as well as a bump in attendance at "lessons learned" webinars for federal contracting officers and commercial contractors.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.

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