DHS Procurement Is Put Off Again; Delay May Hurt Small Businesses

The Department of Homeland Security has pledged to make a new information-technology contract a model for government-wide efforts to contract with small businesses. But, according to a recent article by Jill Aitoro in the Washington Business Journal, it has missed its deadline for a substantial portion of the contract awards.
The contracts are for portions of FirstSource II, which covers information technology purchases worth up to $3 billion, and they were originally supposed to be awarded by June 2012.When it was announced, this contract vehicle was touted as among the largest set-asides in history by any federal agency for the small business community. Now, the contracts may not be awarded until March 2013.
FirstSource II is supposed to address four DHS priorities: infrastructure rationalization, overall IT improvement, elimination of duplication, and balancing its information-technology workforce. It involves commodities as basic as new computers, laptops, and routers, many of which are to be provided by small businesses.
Earlier this year, according to the article, DHS issued contract awards to seven small businesses in historically underutilized business zones (HUBZones); seven small disadvantaged businesses under the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) program; and six service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses.
But it hasn’t yet made any awards to economically disadvantaged, women-owned small businesses (EDWOSBs) and general small businesses. Even though DHS has announced that it is “nearing the end of the process,” nothing will happen until early January, and the awards may not be made till March.
As a supporter of small business set-asides, we are perturbed that delay seems to be the order of the day, especially when it comes to small businesses that often offer cutting-edge technology, flexibility, and quick response time. We urge the DHS to take action.

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