Armstrong: EAGLE contracts will improve IT management

DHS' deputy CIO says EAGLE will help the department inject interoperability and standardization into its enterprise architecture.

The Homeland Security Department’s new platform for acquiring information technology services will help the department get its IT programs up to speed, the department’s deputy chief information officer said today.

DHS awarded indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contracts to 25 companies for the Enterprise Acquisition Gateway for Leading Edge (EAGLE) solutions program today.

EAGLE will serve as a departmentwide platform for acquiring IT service solutions in five functional categories:

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

DHS hopes to save $40 million in fees it pays other departments to administer its IT contracts, said Charlie Armstrong, DHS’ deputy CIO.

EAGLE will help DHS inject interoperability, standardization and regulatory compliance into its enterprise architecture, Armstrong said. Designated employees will ensure that the program complies with Office of Management and Budget regulations, he said.

DHS has weathered a lot of criticism to get IT solutions in place, Armstrong said. Through EAGLE, the department aims to reduce the time it takes to identify program requirements and get task orders operating, he said. “We think this will really get us to solve problems quickly” and get new programs up and running, he added.

EAGLE will have a centralized contract with decentralized ordering, said Soraya Correa, director of DHS’ procurement operations. Components of the department will order through their own procurement offices, which a central office will coordinate. The central office will also handle purchasing for the Office of the CIO, she said.

DHS is adding electronic processing of purchase orders to its procurement systems, Correa said.

The department will split parts of EAGLE into separate procurements, she said. For example, EAGLE’s small-business portion is on track for the end of July.

EAGLE is “just another IDIQ,” said Ray Bjorklund, senior vice president and chief knowledge officer at Federal Sources Inc. “It’s special in that DHS finally got its act together to consolidate its activities and programs.”

Bjorklund said he wants to see how fast contractors will see task and delivery orders. He also wants to find out how much work on existing contracts will move over to EAGLE and how quickly.

EAGLE is well-designed and should operate smoothly, Bjorklund said. The big question is whether EAGLE is designed well-enough so that people will use it instead of other procurement vehicles, he said. “The proof is in the pudding,” he added.

Large systems integrators with long federal track records took most of the slots, said Phil Kiviat, a partner at Guerra Kiviat. “This is nothing more than, ‘Let’s round up the usual suspects,’” he said.

There is pent-up demand for the contract and task orders waiting to be issued, Kiviat said. He expects the first activity on EAGLE in the next few weeks and rapid action thereafter.

DHS wanted the strongest companies for each of the five program areas, Kiviat said. The setup will be good for DHS because it limits the number of companies it deals with to a small group of well-known providers, he said.

Handing all the business to large integrators, however, will make it difficult for midsize companies to participate in DHS programs, Kiviat said. He predicted instances in which large companies can’t bring on midsize partners because the prime contractors must meet their set-asides for small businesses.

Some midsize companies will protest EAGLE’s setup, Kiviat said. He expects that DHS and industry will find a way to include midsize businesses, however.

An important step to include midsize businesses in EAGLE would be for Congress to define them in the Federal Acquisition Regulation, just as it has defined small businesses, Kiviat said. Without that definition, he said, the exclusion of midsize businesses will be inevitable.

The General Services Administration’s Alliant contract could face similar problems with including midsize companies for the same reason, Kiviat said.