Will the DHS financial system emerge, too?

Teams of contractors vying to develop the Homeland Security Department's integrated financial system, dubbed Emerge2, face a risky task.

The project could boost the department's ability to shift resources quickly as threats change, but it requires deploying an enterprise resource planning system in an arena that already has dozens of uncoordinated systems.

James Carafano, a senior research fellow with the Heritage Foundation of Washington, said financial and human resources systems, which the department also is buying [see HR story, Page 1], should constitute the department's IT foundation.

'Those are the linchpins and the key reason for pulling all 22 agencies under one roof,' Carafano said. 'The low-hanging fruit is gone. We are not going to get any more quick fixes.'

He said a flexible financial system would increase the department's effectiveness by letting officials reallocate resources among its components.

But Carafano cautioned that federal financial systems 'have not been hallmarks of great governance. As for DHS' system, the jury is out.' He commended the department's practice of phasing in major systems and launching prototypes before fielding them full-scale.

DHS likely will receive bids for the Emerge2 draft request for proposals from three to five major teams, sources said.

An RFP for the program, Electronically Managing Enterprise Resources for Government Effectiveness and Efficiency, was released this month.

'All the information needed to create and submit a successful quotation is available from the Emerge2 electronic industry day, at www.interactive.dhs.gov [see sidebar above], and the request for quotations,' DHS spokesman Ben Quevedo said. 'The requirements do not mandate the use of any specific technology or solutions.'

One Emerge2 team reportedly is led by BearingPoint Inc. of McLean, Va., along with Lockheed Martin Corp., Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. of McLean, Va., and DeLoitte Services LP of New York.

Another team likely includes prime contractor IBM Corp., Accenture LLP and Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego, sources said.

Oracle back-end

Both teams plan to offer a back-office system built around an Oracle Corp. database, according to executives participating in the bidding.

Industry executives said Computer Sciences Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp. and Unisys Corp. also were working to form a team.

Darryl Moody, BearingPoint's senior vice president for homeland security practice, confirmed that his company would participate. 'We are planning to pursue it,' he said.

The decision to allow existing contractors to bid on the Emerge2 systems integration project had drawn earlier criticism from vendors who said insiders would have an unfair edge over those who do not already hold DHS contracts. Program manager Catherine Y. Santana countered the objections by saying that the Emerge2 staff would level the playing field by making abundant information available to all bidders.

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