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Tech firms prepare to tap into Homeland Security program

By Marjorie Censer
Monday, May 10, 2010; 14

A major Department of Homeland Security information technology program is drawing interest from hundreds of companies as they ready for a draft solicitation later this month.

Companies' representatives packed a standing-room-only meeting on Capitol Hill last week to review the project, called the Enterprise Acquisition Gateway for Leading Edge Solutions II -- or Eagle II.

Eagle II will serve as the department-wide technology services program -- or what William Thoreen, associate director of the DHS Information Technology Acquisition Center, called "the entire waterfront" of IT services.

The coveted program acts as a follow-on to Eagle, awarded in 2006. That program -- under which 25 large businesses and 28 small businesses received contracts -- has resulted in more than 400 task orders and more than $8 billion in awards.

At last week's meeting, officials made it clear Eagle II could be even bigger.

Thoreen said the value of the entire program could reach $22 billion.

Panelist Vijay Narula, chief executive of District-based contracting firm Optimal Solutions and Technologies, said he has heard that as many as 1,200 bids could be submitted. Narula's company received work under the original Eagle initiative.

According to the House Homeland Security Committee, more than 1,700 company representatives attended a late March pre-solicitation conference on Eagle II.

DHS panelists encouraged bidders to consider teaming up -- either before or after receiving an award. Kevin Boshears, director of the department's Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, said a small business can include up to four other small businesses as teammates when it bids as a prime contractor.

"It enables small businesses to work together in a complementary way," he said.

Homeland Security officials said Eagle II reflects the department's experience with the first iteration of the program. For instance, the original Eagle defined five "functional categories" and restricted a company to bidding only within its area of expertise. Eagle II, on the other hand, reshapes the categories and allows bidders to compete within any of them. However, DHS will only make an award to a company in one category to prevent conflicts of interest, Thoreen said.

The draft request for proposals is set for release May 17, and companies will have 30 days to comment.

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