DHS lines up IT procurements

The Homeland Security Department is moving ahead with three IT procurements to address interoperable communications, general IT functions and advanced baggage screening systems.

Two of the procurements'the Integrated Wireless Network program and the Total Information Processing Support Services-3 project'involve other agencies. IWN is a joint program with the Justice and Treasury departments. TIPSS-3 is an IRS procurement that DHS wants to use as a vehicle for purchasing IT services.

The baggage project, Manhattan II, is run solely by the Transportation Security Administration.
DHS declined to offer details on the projects beyond those in procurement documents already distributed to industry.

IWN likely will yield a total value of $2.5 billion, according to DHS and industry sources, with a ceiling of $10 billion over several years. About $400 million is available for next year.

The department plans to select a single IWN contractor via a two-phase procurement process that eventually will generate a competition between two vendors. The first-phase proposal request was set to open between Aug. 24 and Sept. 21, according to DHS documents. DHS plans to release a draft second-phase RFP for comment between Oct. 1 and Oct. 24.

The department plans to open the second-phase RFP from mid-November to late January, followed by the award of indefinite-quantity, indefinite-delivery contracts next May. When DHS chooses the final contractor, it plans to keep other vendors available in case the first one fails.

So far, the likely main bidders for the IWN contract are Accenture Ltd., General Dynamics Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp. and Motorola Inc.

Motorola is the incumbent federal land-mobile radio contractor for about 15 federal agencies. IWN will be designed to serve state and local first responders as well as federal officials, so it will require a sophisticated protocol, known as P-25, to establish groups and priorities for communication on interoperable channels.

Manhattan II is intended to vastly improve baggage screening technology. TSA issued a broad announcement for it in April. Bids were due in late May and, according to Input of Reston, Va., TSA likely will issue contracts next month.

Manhattan II is intended to generate new technologies starting in 2010 or 2011 to speed baggage processing, reduce false alarms, help TSA staff cope with system warnings, and improve maintenance and automation. One source noted that existing systems are not widely deployed and aren't very effective anyway.

Industry sources said DHS likely would seek to use IRS' TIPSS-3 governmentwide acquisition contract to buy a wide range of IT equipment and services.

TIPPS-3 will replace the Treasury Information Processing Support Services-2 procurement, which expires next May. IRS issued the TIPPS-3 proposal request on June 23. Proposals are due Sept. 7. The government expects to issue eight to 12 contracts next May for a total of about $3 billion over five years. The contracts will cover a wide range of IT services including systems security and strategic business services.

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