DHS gathers staff for new tech procurements

DHS gathers staff for new tech procurements

The Homeland Security Department is recruiting dozens of acquisition professionals to operate the Information Technology Acquisition Center, a fledgling office in DHS headquarters that will oversee major new IT procurements.

Dan McLaughlin, ITAC's acting director, is overseeing the expansion of the office from its current staff of five to about 50 federal employees, he told attendees at the Input FedFocus conference in Washington yesterday. McLaughlin reports to Mickey Jones, DHS' director of procurement operations, who in turn reports to the department's chief procurement officer, Greg Rothwell.

ITAC's mission is to 'enable, execute and manage the timely, flexible and cost effective acquisition of IT and telecomm products and services,' McLaughlin said. It will do so in coordination with the department's enterprise architecture, policies of the Infrastructure Transformation Office in the CIO office, telecom standards and security standards, among other requirements.

McLaughlin said ITAC would rely on cross-functional teaming among agencies, form partnerships with industry and link its acquisitions to performance-based results. One goal is to speed ordering and payment. Others are to analyze the department's spending patterns, improve acquisition practices and benchmark procurement effectiveness.

In its beginning stages, ITAC will not be deeply involved in the department's mission-level IT activities, such as buying commodity items for specific activities or developing and maintaining applications such as databases.

The growing office will intervene more aggressively in enterprise-level procurements, such as enterprise software licenses, enterprise applications such as the Emerge2 financial system and enterprise commodities such as land mobile radio systems.

ITAC's primary focus, however, will be on infrastructure projects, including efforts to consolidate data centers, operations centers, help desk functions and other IT activities that involve several department components. ITAC will be deeply involved in procurements for infrastructure services such as IT engineering and architecture services. The office also will hone in on infrastructure commodities such as desktops, commercial software, printers and scanners.

In fiscal 2005, ITAC staff will adopt a governance structure binding the department's various IT organizations, develop detailed acquisition plans for services and commodities, help develop stakeholder requirements and craft solicitation documents for major projects.

Over the coming months'according to timelines that lack set dates, McLaughlin said with a smile'ITAC will oversee the transformation of the department's technology contracts from the existing patchwork of contracts to a DHS IT Service and Commodity Marketplace. The planned marketplace will reflect new spending management plans and include the domain contracts.

The department's seven other IT acquisition offices will continue to operate, purchasing IT goods and services via the domain contracts and other procurements that ITAC will lead, McLaughlin said.

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