DHS personnel system buy draws Hill ire

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) has launched a critical inquiry into the Homeland Security Department's decision to award a blanket purchase agreement to Northrop Grumman Information Technology for the $175 million MaxHR project to build a new personnel system. Thompson is the ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee.

In the letter Thompson sent to DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff late last month, the congressman requested extensive details about the contract and charged that the department's use of a BPA for the transaction was 'unorthodox' and 'inappropriate.' Thompson made the letter public.

Thompson said that Northrop Grumman does not appear to be offering quantity discounts on the IT work. He added that BPAs generally do not provide for the strict oversight and accountability needed in developing complex pay and administrative systems.

'The department will certainly respond to Congressman Thompson's request for information concerning our contract with Northrop Grumman,' said DHS spokesman Larry Orluskie.

Northrop Grumman said through a spokeswoman that it was referring inquiries about the Thompson letter to DHS and that it expected to continue work on the HR project.

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