DHS readies major contracts

The Homeland Security Department is moving forward on three IT procurements that will fill major needs for 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, and TIPSS-3 is an IRS procurement that DHS is using to buy a broad range of IT services.

The third project, known as Manhattan II, is run solely by the Transportation Security Administration.

DHS declined to offer details on the projects beyond those in procurement documents that it already has distributed.

IWN likely will be worth $2.5 billion, according to DHS and industry sources. The program has a ceiling of as much as $10 billion over several years. Of that sum, about $400 million is available for spending next year.

The department plans to select a single contractor via a two-phase procurement process involving downselects that eventually will generate a competition between two vendors for the contract.

The first-phase request for proposals should be released between Aug. 24 and Sept. 21, according to DHS documents. The department plans to release a draft second-phase RFP for comment between Oct. 1 and Oct. 24.

From mid-November to late January, DHS plans to release the second-phase RFP, which is to be followed by award of indefinite-quantity, indefinite-delivery contracts in May.

When DHS chooses the final IWN contractor, the department plans to keep other vendors available to step in if the first contractor fails.

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

The Manhattan II project is intended to generate a dramatic improvement in baggage screening technologies to detect explosives.

TSA issued a broad agency announcement for Manhattan II in April. Bids were due in late May, and according to Input of Reston, Va., the agency likely will award contracts next month.

Manhattan II is intended to generate emerging and revolutionary new technologies starting in 2010 to 2011 to speed baggage processing, reduce false alarm rates, help TSA staff cope with system warnings of explosives in baggage and improve maintenance and automation.

One source close to the problem of detecting explosives in baggage noted that existing systems for detecting explosives are not effective or widely deployed.

Industry sources said the DHS likely would seek to use the 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 in May. The IRS issued the TIPPS-3 RFP June 23. Proposals are due Sept. 7. The government expects to issue about eight to 12 contracts in May for a total value of about $3 billion over five years. The contracts will cover IT services, including systems security and strategic business services.

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