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Sunday, July 21, 2024

DHS Reports ‘Banner Year’ in Procurement Innovation, Small-Business Awards, Competition

OCPO reported that 2,928 businesses -- 1,931 of those small businesses -- were working with DHS for the first time in FY 2022.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Chief Procurement Officer exceeded contracting goals and put acquisition innovation and training front-and-center in this past fiscal year, according to the office’s new annual report.

“Together, we exemplified our four strategic priorities — empower, collaborate, innovate, and procure — and made this a banner year of ‘firsts’ for DHS,” Chief Procurement Officer Paul Courtney wrote at the outset of the report. “Some of the many firsts we accomplished were record-breaking competition rates, the largest number of first-time businesses working with DHS, and the highest small business achievements in our agency’s history.”

In fiscal year 2022 the goal for small and disadvantaged businesses was 17 percent; DHS exceeded that with a historic 18 percent of contract dollars. In fiscal year the goal was just 5 percent.

The department met all-time highs in contract dollars awarded to small disadvantaged businesses ($3.99 billion), service-disabled veteran-owned small business ($1.5 billion), HUBZone ($1.19 billion), and women-owned small businesses ($1.75 billion). The small business prime obligation was $8.95 billion — a billion more than the previous fiscal year and accounting for 40 percent of total DHS spend. 

OCPO reported that 2,928 businesses — 1,931 of those small businesses — were working with DHS for the first time in FY 2022. The competition rate broke 80 percent for the first time in the department’s history, exceeding the 76.2 percent goal with 80.2 percent. Less than one percent of competed awards were protested, with 82 protests in FY 2022 compared to 110 protests in FY 2021.

DHS also marked its fifth consecutive year breaking category management goals. “DHS surpassed its Government-wide spend under management (SUM) and best-in-class (BIC) contract utilization goals for the fifth consecutive year, demonstrating its commitment to using DHS-developed strategically sourced contracts and adopted Government-wide solutions to purchase common goods and services,” the report says. “In fact, since FY 2018 when category management goals were established, DHS is the ONLY Chief Financial Officers Act agency that has met or exceeded both its small business and category management goals.”

The goal for SUM was 60 percent with the department hitting 80 percent in FY 2022, while the BIC contract spend goal was 19 percent and was hit with 27 percent. Forty-eight percent, or $2.9 billion, went to small business prime contractors. OCPO reported $463 million in savings in FY 2022, with $6.8 billion cumulative savings since FY 2005.

The department has been focusing on developing its acquisition workforce. OCPO reported that 1,522 staff attended small-business training conducted by the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization on “topics ranging from consolidation and bundling to equity in procurement and OSDBU’s responsibilities.”

“Some attendees saw the topics through a small business lens for the first time and said they felt empowered by the new understanding,” the report noted.

OCPO also developed its Mission-First campaign that “celebrates the work of the procurement community, reminding the DHS workforce and leadership about the critical role they play and giving procurement professionals an opportunity to see themselves in mission outcomes.”

The Procurement Innovation Lab (PIL), which uses innovative acquisition techniques to get solutions in the hands of frontline operators, created the executive-sponsored PIL Idea Competition that drew more than 52 submissions from the workforce detailing solutions to challenges that impede the procurement process across three idea competitions. Winners chosen by a panel of subject-matter experts in the upcoming fiscal year will receive prizes.

PIL also helped the DHS Science and Technology Directorate consolidate five IT support services contracts and award a $111 million blanket purchase agreement to a woman-owned small business. “The consolidation helped DHS take advantage of economies of scale, and the three-phase down-select approach gave S&T confidence in the awardee’s ability to perform the work,” the report notes. “S&T awarded the contract in nine months.”

The report added that 244 staffers attended four classes on more advanced innovation techniques offered in PIL Boot Camp – The Next Level. 

In order to keep the procurement workforce up to date on topics such as sustainable acquisitions and the Federal Priorities and Allocation System (FPAS) process, the Acquisition and Policy Oversight (APO) Office created 2-minute videos housed on DHS Connect and YouTube as “another way we meet our goal to deliver training at the speed of need,” OCPO said. The Communications and Industry Liaison Branch and the Chief of Staff Team also restructured the Procurement Town Hall to be more interactive and collaborative among colleagues.

Detail assignments also allowed procurement staff to experience new responsibilities and support historic initiatives such as Operation Allies Welcome.

The Acquisition Policy and Oversight (APO) office partnered with the Homeland Security Acquisition Institute (HSAI), the DHS Office of Sustainability, and the Department of Energy (DOE) to create training that addressed questions and concerns about using Energy Savings Performance Contracts, with the first contracts expected to be awarded in late spring 2023.

The report includes examples of procurement challenges that were met in various agencies, such as the Office of Procurement Operations and the Strategic Programs Division working with the Chief Information Officer team on the Hack DHS IDIQ to contract white-glove hackers to break into DHS systems and report vulnerabilities. “For the first time, DHS has quick, easy access to ethical hackers and the peace of mind that our systems are secure,” the report states.

OCPO credits feedback from industry for inspiring a change in the Acquisition Planning Forecast System (APFS), resulting in the Acquisition Workforce and Systems Support (AWSS) team redesigning the public landing page to highlight the primary features and letting industry see and track where changes have been made. “By incorporating industry feedback, AWSS put both government and industry in better positions to support the mission and goals of the Department. Industry can now more easily identify and more accurately respond to government needs,” the report said.

Bridget Johnson
Bridget Johnson
Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a terrorism analyst and security consultant with a specialty in online open-source extremist propaganda, incitement, recruitment, and training. She hosts and presents in Homeland Security Today law enforcement training webinars studying a range of counterterrorism topics including conspiracy theory extremism, complex coordinated attacks, critical infrastructure attacks, arson terrorism, drone and venue threats, antisemitism and white supremacists, anti-government extremism, and WMD threats. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15 and a private investigator. Bridget is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera, BBC and SiriusXM.

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