DHS sets a course for consolidation

New contracts call for merging data centers, software projects<@VM>Sidebar | In search of a tree full of owls<@VM>Sidebar | Last train to Clarksville stops at new data center

The Homeland Security Department is emphasizing consolidation in its information technology infrastructure with contracts to merge an array of data centers into one $800 million location and select a lead software service provider for the Transportation Security Administration at a cost of about $400 million to $500 million.

EDS is set to build the new data center, likely in Clarksville, Va., during the next eight years. IBM Global Business Services is leading a team of partners, most prominently Deloitte, in a five-year project to provide a consolidated source of IT services to the TSA.

Those two infrastructure contracts had the effect of consolidating dozens of the sprawling department's IT projects. DHS also laid the groundwork for a coming generation of work on cybersecurity research via a Broad Agency Announcement competitive procurement under the auspices of the Science and Technology Directorate (see story, Page 10).

EDS bested Computer Sciences Corp. to snare the data center managed-services agreement. The company appeared to have chosen Clarksville as the site for the new data center, according to various sources (see sidebar, Page 10).

The department awarded both agreements under its Enterprise Acquisition Gateway for Leading Edge Solutions (EAGLE) umbrella contract. Accordingly, the work
will progress under task orders under EAGLE program rules. Such agreements take the form of indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity pacts that can be issued on a competitive basis.

TSA is calling its new systems development contract the Organizational Application Support and Information Services (OASIS). The OASIS contract will kick off with an initial award of $98.5 million in its first year and run for a total of five years if all options are exercised, TSA said.

Vendor sources said the OASIS pact likely would amount to $400 million to $500 million during its five-year duration.

TSA said in a press release that it expects the consolidation of its software development under one prime contractor, IBM, instead of several companies, would 'foster a closer working relationship, improve communications and provide the greatest value to TSA both in technical capabilities and price.'

As for the data center contract, EDS spokesman Brad Bass said the project would amount to as much as $800 million over eight years if the department exercised all its options.

'We would like to talk about it, but we are restricted in what we can say,' Bass said. 'There are national security considerations here.'

DHS already has activated its first major data center at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The second data center is planned to act as a backup to the first center.

The department issued its initial task order for the second data center to EDS Aug. 31. The order provided a base amount of $39 million, of which EDS received $32 million as an initial incremental payment.

The department said in response to an e-mail inquiry that the second data center project is a joint effort of the DHS chief information officer and chief acquisition officer councils.

In framing the proposal request for the second data center, DHS emphasized that it wanted to ensure an extremely high level of physical security for the facility. The department also said it wanted to assure the center's continuity of operations in the event of an electric outage or other natural or man-made disaster.

DHS said it relied on three factors to compare proposals for the data center: the technical and management approach, past performance and price. The department said it assigned more weight to the nonprice factors, and sought to obtain the best value for the government based on each vendor's strengths and weaknesses.

DHS said the data center contract will have a 10-month base period, plus five one-year options, and a final option period of either one or two years. All told, the data center task orders won't extend longer than eight years, the department said.
As for the TSA contract, the agency said it had an initial payment of $98.5 million and would run for a total of five years if all options are exercised. Other sources in the vendor community said the contract could grow to as much as $400 million to $500 million if all options are exercised.

IBM will serve as the prime contractor for the OASIS project, TSA said. Industry sources confirmed that Deloitte, which already is providing systems development work to TSA, would be the most important subcontractor on the OASIS project.
'The agreement brings all of TSA's software application development under IBM's management,' TSA said.

TSA predicted in a press release that the OASIS project, by replacing several previous contractors with one team managed by IBM, would 'foster a closer working relationship, improve communications and provide the greatest value to TSA both in technical capabilities and price.'

The department, IBM and Deloitte declined to answer repeated requests for OASIS details. DHS issued information about the unclassified EDS data center project only after GCN broke the news.
DHS looking for a few cybersecurity brainiacs

While it is busy bringing order to its information technology fundamentals, the Homeland Security Department also is seeking to upgrade its cybersecurity functions through a Broad Agency Announcement aimed at determining the most promising future technologies.

DHS' Science and Technology Directorate plans to spend $4.5 million on the basic research and development projects, which fit together with other cybersecurity work done by the U.S. Computer Emergency Response Team and other department projects.

According to procurement documents available through Input, the directorate issued its request for proposals in mid-May and received responses Sept. 17.

The directorate specified nine areas for the bidders to home in on:

  • Botnets and malware, especially detection and mitigation.
  • Composable and scalable secure systems.
  • Cybersecurity metrics.
  • Network data visualization for information assurance.
  • Internet tomography and topography.
  • Routing security management tools.
  • Process-control system security.
  • Data anonymization tools and techniques.
  • Insider threat detection and mitigation.

The department has announced that it expects to award contracts in November to study the research issues.
Homeland Security Department officials and the vendors involved in the planning for construction of the second federal homeland security data center, have been especially secretive about the likely location of the facility.

Vendors have refused to tell outsiders the new facility's site, citing security concerns.

But one indicator of the likely site for the new data center surfaced in the pages of the Triangle Business Journal, a newspaper in Raleigh, N.C.

Business sources in the Raleigh-Durham area said that Computer Sciences, the losing bidder for the second DHS data center, had invested and lost millions in early-stage demolition and construction that would have cleared the way for the facility to be built on the site of a former Environmental Protection Agency building in Research Triangle Park. One source said the loss of the prospective DHS data center was a significant business loss for the region.

CSC executives did not respond to requests for comment on the matter.

The Journal cited local realtors who said Clarksville, Va., in the southern reaches of the Old Dominion, was under consideration earlier this year as an alternate site for the facility, which likely would employ 200 professionals.

EDS already is recruiting for more than a dozen openings for computer specialists in Clarksville. The jobs include five openings for infrastructure analysts to help plan the installation and one slot for an infrastructure specialist who will have similar responsibilities. There are five more job openings for senior computer operators to keep the systems running. Finally, EDS seeks an administrative assistant to take care of financial, personnel and meeting management tasks, among others.

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