DHS Silicon Valley Office Awards First Contract to Internet of Things Startup

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It's part of DHS' calculated effort to tap into the cutting-edge private sector technology -- and technology talent -- often provided by startups.

The Department of Homeland Security has taken a first step in its efforts to buy emerging technology from Silicon Valley startups. 

DHS this week awarded $200,000 to a Santa Clara-based company called Pulzze Systems, which develops security monitoring for the system of devices, sensors and networks for the Internet of Things. 

The award is part of DHS' calculated effort to tap into the cutting-edge private sector technology -- and technology talent -- often provided by startups instead of by the larger and more traditional federal technology contractors.

In April, Homeland Security announced plans to open up its own office in California.

Since then, that office has revealed plans to offer new kinds of contracts, including smaller, multiphase awards between $50,000 and $200,000 to these startups for security technology. These contracts are classified as "Innovation Other Transaction Solicitations" to distinguish them from the traditional procurement vehicles, and "implement faster and streamlined methods and don’t carry all the requirements of procurement contracts," according to a DHS notice. 

“We’re trying to mirror the way Silicon Valley and other innovative investment communities work,” DHS Silicon Valley Office Managing Director Melissa Ho said in a statement. DHS issued the solicitation in December and made the award two months later, “demonstrating our ability to adapt to new ways of doing business,” she said.

This is the first award DHS has made under its “Innovation Other Transaction Solicitation” effort, according to DHS, which had issued a call for applications specifically detailing technology that could protect the Internet of Things. 

Homeland Security's Silicon Valley outpost aims "to bridge the gap between the department and the creative thinkers in Silicon Valley,” DHS Undersecretary for Science and Technology Reginald Brothers said in a statement. The first award -- and the quick turnaround leading up to it, "proves DHS can keep pace with the innovation community and is moving in the right direction to become a viable partner," he added.