SIA: DHS acquisitions process needs more ‘predictability’

CEO optimistic legislation will ‘pass the House in some form’
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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

WASHINGTON—The Security Industry Association has drafted a bill that would provide security integrators who contract with the Department of Homeland Security a more comprehensive and long-term picture of what DHS agencies need, Don Erickson, CEO of SIA, told Security Systems News. 

The draft includes a provision asking that a multiyear acquisition plan be “better defined” throughout all nine agencies of the DHS, Erickson said.

“The more information the government can provide about what its priorities are earlier in the acquisition process, the better for the contractor community,” he said. “I think that’s really the fundamental goal of the bill.” 

As part of the proposal, SIA will recommend that all components of the DHS provide better clarity and direction regarding specific technologies. With a better idea of what security products and services DHS plans to acquire, integrators can eliminate some of the guesswork involved in the procurement process, while being better equipped to spend their limited time and resources wisely, Erickson noted.

“This helps them dedicate more resources to partnering with certain manufacturers that may have expertise with a certain component of DHS,” he said. “It enables them to get a little more specific as to what projects they should prioritize, and with whom.”

There’s no timeline for when a bill might be introduced, and Erickson noted that the policies contained in the proposal could have a variety of possible outcomes—some of which could improve the procurement and acquisition process even if the provisions aren’t introduced as a bill unto itself. The proposed legislation could be introduced as a stand-alone bill or included in an omnibus appropriations package. Erickson is confident the bill will “pass the House in some form.”

Even if legislation is not enacted, the provisions could influence the DHS procurement procedures and ultimately bring about favorable policy changes, Erickson said. Bill proposals tend to generate dialogue that can compel agencies to take action even if legislation has not been enacted. 

“If they get the message from the Hill that there’s a need for greater direction on procurements and acquisitions, perhaps there will be some existing authority that will enable them to address that issue or goal,” he said.

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