The new Administration cannot unify the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) without technology. These days, technology solutions are just not that easy to buy. Welcome to EAGLE II … the re-compete of the successful $45 billion contract vehicle for information technology (IT).

As DHS starts to create a new way to acquire solutions and considers whom to invite to the table, they currently faces two not-very-appetizing alternatives.

First, EAGLE II can continue the status quo in acquiring function-based IT services. This approach makes it difficult to align a contractor’s performance with the needs of DHS and its components. It also limits DHS’ ability to buy solutions that achieve outcomes rather than outputs.

Second, DHS could choose a soup-to-nuts approach that only allows the mega IT companies, mostly defense contractors, to compete. It may cut out many small, mid-size, and even large companies with special homeland security and functional expertise.

At the extreme end of the soup-to-nuts approach, it is likely that only the eight largest IT contractors will be invited to the table. You can guess the list by comparing the top IT providers with the list of who holds an EAGLE I contract. Putting all of DHS’ eggs in these eight baskets would limit innovation and not deliver the quality sorely needed by the Components. Maybe it is six or maybe it is nine, but you get the idea.

DHS must be inclusive and innovative on EAGLE II in whatever option they choose. The Department should seriously consider selecting a group of diverse, mission-knowledgeable businesses across the spectrum of sizes and capabilities:

  • Small businesses focused on DHS
  • Small businesses graduating from EAGLE I
  • Mid-sized companies that serve DHS today
  • Large solution and consulting companies
  • Mega IT-companies, primarily defense contractors

Eight baskets are not enough.

DHS will benefit from selecting 30 large and 30 small businesses to get some fresh ideas, acquire new solutions from new companies, keep reliable current providers, maximize competition for task orders, and access the largest of the large for the billion-dollar programs.

This is going to be interesting … I hope that EAGLE II serves as an innovation accelerator to support the next big challenge for DHS.

Lynn Ann Casey has more than 20 years of experience consulting to Government agencies at the Federal, state, local and international levels.  She is a recognized thought leader on homeland security topics including border management, enforcement, biometrics and identity management, and transportation security.  Lynn Ann founded Arc Aspicio, a management and information technology company that specializes in homeland security, in 2004.  As the CEO, she supports client projects at the Department of Homeland Security every day.