DOD sifts 600 antiterrorism proposals to nine

Jeff David, of DOD's Combating Terrorism Technology Support Office, says of the proposals, 'Every one of our BAAs are to help fight terrorism.'

David S. Spence

In the days after Sept. 11, the Defense Department began a search for new technologies that it could field quickly for the war against terrorism.

The department issued a broad agency announcement in October seeking ideas from industry, academia and nonprofit organizations.

By year's end, the department had received more than 12,500 responses'more than quadruple the solicitations received from any other BAA.

'It was a very patriotic response,' said Chip Mather, partner at Acquisition Solutions Inc., a Chantilly, Va., consulting firm. 'I see this as a heartfelt reaction of industry wanting to support the government in the war on terrorism.'

More than 300 government reviewers sifted through thousands of proposals on the Web-based BAA Information Delivery System, filled out forms and provided their feedback'all electronically. Previously, DOD used a manual BAA review process, photocopying documents and shipping them to review teams.

Earlier this year, members of the multiagency Technical Support Working Group identified 600 proposals as promising enough to request further information. They asked the companies that submitted them to create white papers that expanded on details and costs.

18-month rollout

The working group has decided to fund nine of the 600 proposals at a total cost of $9.1 million. The technologies will be developed, tested and rolled out in 18 months.

Jeff David, deputy director of the Defense Department's Combating Terrorism Technology Support Office, which manages the working group, said the group expects to fund another 50 proposals as it receives more funding.

'It all depends on when the money comes in,' David said. 'We are matching the proposals against our budget.'

Among the projects the working group has chosen to fund are four efforts:
  • Data collection tools for special forces

  • Specialized explosives, robotic systems and diagnostic tools for use by explosive ordnance forces

  • Large-vehicle bomb mitigation and disablement tools

  • Bio-aerosol detection technology

  • Methods to screen personnel for contact with weapons of mass destruction.

David declined to be more specific about the nine selected proposals, citing security concerns.

'These will support the ongoing war effort,' he said. 'Things are a little more sensitive than normal.'

The post-Sept. 11 announcement had four major focus areas that set it apart from other BAAs: combating terrorism; protracted operations in remote areas; location and defeat of difficult targets; and countermeasures for weapons of mass destruction.

Part of the BAA focus was driven by technology requests from military commanders in the field, said John Reingruber, who works in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict. Reingruber spoke at a Pentagon special briefing on the BAA late last year.

'What you're seeing now is a confluence of the warfighter entering the fray to combat terrorism,' Reingruber said.

Although the October BAA was broader in its scope and focus than past announcements, the mission of the Technical Support Working Group always has been to identify and prioritize R&D requirements for combating terrorism. That hasn't changed, David said. 'Every one of our BAAs are to help fight terrorism,' he said.

Overwhelming feedback

The overwhelming feedback received by industry to this BAA helped to set it apart, officials said.
The working group has been in existence since the early 1980s, Reingruber said. Today, more than 80 agencies across the government participate, including DOD and the Energy, Justice and State departments.


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