The EAGLE is flying: DHS’ new IT program

Two programs make up the IT Infrastructure Transformation Program: “EAGLE” (Enterprise Acquisition Gateway for Leading Edge Solutions) for information technology services and “First Source” for information technology commodities, or hardware and software. The goal of the consolidated buy programs is to award contract vehicles to vendors to help “provide the necessary gateway between our core mission and the private sector that will enable us to obtain the needed services and supplies in a more strategic and more efficient and less costly manner,” Rothwell said.
The procurement office examined the best practices of other federal agencies whencreating the parameters of the consolidated purchasing programs. A new unit within Rothwell’s Information Technology Acquisition Center (ITAC) called the Enterprise Solutions Office, headed by Sarah Shulocky, is taking charge of both EAGLE and First Source. The office consists of a team of personnel from procurement offices across DHS, the government chief information officer community and the business community, Rothwell said.
In the draft RFPs, ITAC procurement officials anticipated that they would release the final RFPs in early September 2005 and award contracts in early 2006. The final RFP had not been released at press time.
Rothwell stressed that ITAC is more concerned with getting the contracts established in the right manner than with obeying artificial deadlines. Speaking at the industry day, he expressed hopes “that these two programs will be done within nine months.”
He added: “That’s kind of on the outside. But most importantly, our focus is on doing this right. So we don’t want to start saying when things are going to be awarded and all that and start creating that kind of a needless stress. We’re going to keep you informed as wego through the process, but our priority is on doing this right.”
The contracts
According to the draft RFP for EAGLE, that program will award indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contracts that have a five-year base period and two one-year option periods. The EAGLE contracts have a cumulative value ceiling set at $45 billion.
The First Source program also will award IDIQ contracts, but they will be 100 percent set-aside for small business. Each of the contracts will have a two-year base period with three one-year options, resulting in a total term of five years if the contract runs its course. ITAC anticipates that the First Source contracts collectively will have a maximum ceiling of $3 billion.
DHS has established two e-mail addresses to field questions for each of the programs. They are: [email protected] dhs.gov and [email protected]
Although DHS agencies will not strictly be required to use the contract vehicles when placing information technology orders, the use of EAGLE and First Source are at least “mandatory for consideration,” Rothwell said.
EAGLE
Bill Thoreen, ITAC’s contracting officer for the EAGLE procurement, explained that DHS has eight different commands that have procurement authority. ITAC has taken the lead for those eight offices to achieve a set of contracts that could accommodate the needs of the offices.
“However, we’ve recognized that no procurement set up like this could meet 100 percent of the needs of the department, so we’re viewing this as a 90 percent solution,” Thoreen said.
ITAC is working hard to avoid too much overlap with major initiatives like the GSA Networx program, and as such the requirements for EAGLE are outlined in five categories intended to be flexible and functional.
The categories listed in EAGLE’s draft RFP break down IT services in the following manner:

  • Infrastructure engineering design, development, implementation and integration
  • Operations and maintenance
  • Independent test, validation, verification and evaluation
  • Software development
  • Management support services

“Source selection in this procurement will be at the functional category level,” Thoreen said, meaning that a vendor could bid in response to one category, all categories or any combination of them.
DHS plans to have two application tracks for EAGLE—one that is open to all businesses and another that is a small business set-aside. Each of the functional categories have a business size standard of $21 million in average annual receipts, except for Management Support Services, which has a size standard of $6 million.
Responding to the EAGLE RFP should be relatively easy for businesses, Thoreen said.
“If you’ve had an opportunity to look at the draft RFP, somebody bidding on one category, your proposal absent the costing information, will be approximately 40 pages long,” he said. “If you were bidding on all five categories, you might have a 60-page proposal. Again, we’re only asking for information that we believe we’ll need in the source selection.”
The department also plans to open EAGLE to federal agencies outside of DHS, but limit EAGLE procurements to tasks related to homeland security. EAGLE contractors will also be able to use the First Source contracts to procure equipment and commodities when they are fulfilling DHS task orders, according to ITAC’s plans.
Thoreen stressed that he does not know how many EAGLE contract awards ITAC will make, but that he expects the selection to be very competitive.
First Source
Mike Smith, the contract officer for First Source, told industry day attendees that businesses wishing to compete for First Source contracts must have, on average, fewer than 150 employees.
“Our market research shows that a sufficient number of firms in this market segment exists with revenue great enough to demonstrate the capability to meet the DHS needs,” Smith said.
The draft RFP for First Source allows DHS to procure commodities along the lines of two distinct business models, Smith explained. He referred to the first model as the “to-the-desk” model and the second as the “to-the-doc” model.
Utilizing the to-the-desk model, a small business would coordinate the delivery of goods and install all orders, “even installing the organization’s specific desk-top image on the equipment,” Smith said. In contrast, with the to-the-doc model, DHS would handle the installation, limiting the cost of the procurement, he added.
“In both models, the small businesses add value through the spin management reporting and giving DHS customers’ access to their online commercial catalogues, through which DHS could go through and make orders under that catalogue,” Smith said. “Very similar to what you might do at Christmastime when you are shopping online.”
Smith also estimated that DHS would award First Source contracts earlier than EAGLE contracts. Echoing Rothwell by stressing that ITAC would rather do the procurement right than do it fast, Smith said First Source contracts could be settled by the end of the 2005 calendar year. HST
Editor’s note: Look for HSToday’s special expanded report on the EAGLE and First Source programs in the January 2006 edition.

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