Neal Fox | Contracting in Perspective: Will Eagle fly?

Neal Fox

One of the most highly anticipated new contracts scheduled for award in 2006 is Homeland Security's Enterprise Acquisition Gateway for Leading Edge solutions (Eagle). DHS views Eagle as its premier procurement vehicle for agencywide consolidation of IT services, and could account for most of the department's annual IT services contracting, valued at over $4 billion and replace numerous legacy contract vehicles now used by DHS component agencies. Eagle is now in source selection, and DHS officials intend to make awards by July.

Eagle, it's worth noting, is an agencywide vehicle, not a governmentwide acquisition contract (GWAC) as authorized by the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996. But DHS says it can be used by other government agencies to meet homeland-security-related needs. This may be playing semantics with the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, which has the authority to regulate and oversee GWACs. It remains to be seen whether OFPP continues to agree that Eagle is not a de facto GWAC once it is up and running.

Eagle is remarkable in a negative way for its complexity of contracting. DHS will award contracts under the five separate functional areas, meaning a vendor wishing to offer full-scope IT services on Eagle would need to be awarded up to five functional area contracts, which is unlikely for most. This will make Eagle difficult to navigate for complex IT services and force users to wrestle with the issue of scope.

Agencies repeat the same mistakes on these multiple-award vehicles. The biggest one is having too many vendors. Eagle is likely to go down this same path sooner or later. Yet look at the history of highly successful IT-services contract vehicles; the most important key to success was having a small number of outstanding vendors.

So will Eagle be successful? Partly, but I think it is unlikely to live up to DHS' high expectations. Still, DHS is to be commended for putting together an excellent Eagle team, acting quickly to develop and execute a plan, and committing to an integrated approach to IT services acquisition.

Neal Fox is former assistant commissioner for acquisition at GSA's Federal Supply Service, and is principal at Neal Fox Consulting (e-mail: nfox@usa.com). This abridged column is the second in the ongoing series 'Contracting in Perspective,' which now appears on GCN.com.

About the Author

Neil Fox is the former assistant commissioner for commercial acquisition at GSA's Federal Supply Service, and is now principal at Neal Fox Consulting.

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