DHS to fast-track contractor selection for Secure Freight database
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security bidding process for a third-party international data warehouse to support screening of shipments for terrorist smuggling will be limited to a handful of pre-vetted information technology companies, according to a DHS official involved in the program.
The upcoming request for quotation to establish a Global Trade Exchange pilot program will only be available to the handful of vendors now established in the EAGLE procurement program, the official told Shippers’ NewsWire. The Enterprise Acquisition Gateway for Leading Edge Solutions contracting process was set up last year as a way for DHS to quickly move on priority projects by using pre-approved contractors in which certain preliminary terms are pre-negotiated. Specific requirements are defined at the task order level.
Based on the EAGLE prime contractor list, the companies eligible to respond to the Secure Freight Initiative program for a private sector data clearinghouse include:
' AT&T Government Solutions.
' BAE Systems Information Technology Solutions.
' Bearing Point.
' Booz Allen Hamilton.
' Computer Science Corp.
' General Dynamics One Source LLC, a team of contractors led by defense giant General Dynamics.
' Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems & Solutions.
' Lockheed Martin Services.
' Northrop Grumman Information Technology.
' Perot Systems.
' Raytheon Co.
' Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC).
The companies are a who’s who of some of the largest technology integrators in the world, with experience designing, building and operating huge databases for government and private sector purposes.
Last week DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff said the department would initiate a procurement for the controversial data-mining project in the very near future. A DHS official privately added the solicitation could be out in a few short weeks.
Many industry groups are concerned about data privacy and the cost of participating in the system.
DHS’s plan to issue a Request for Quote rather than a Request for Proposal “implies that DHS has the impression that these types of systems exist in industry,” said Sam Banks, a former deputy commissioner of Customs and current vice president at Sandler & Travis Trade Advisory Services.
DHS Deputy Secretary Michael Jackson, who conceived of the data collection system, has hinted in the past that DHS could tap private networks run by automated trade management, security, communications or logistics companies rather than create a new system from scratch.
Among the companies that act as data intermediaries for the clients in the supply chain arena are Savi Networks, GE Security, Motorola, IBM and Maersk Logistics, Descartes Systems, FedEx and UPS. These companies are noted for their use of information systems to enhance the tracking and reliability of freight movements so clients can better control their inventory.
Savi is a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin that specializes in radio frequency identification for cargo management. It is partnering with terminal operator Hutchison Port Holdings on a joint venture called Savi Networks based on an interoperable architecture designed to accommodate identification technologies such as bar codes, RFID and satellite-based global positioning systems.
IBM bought the IT arm of Danish shipping conglomerate A.P. Moller-Maersk in late 2004, and now manages information systems for the Maersk as well as assisting French container line CMA CGM with booking, payment and other customer service systems.
Companies such as Lockheed Martin, IBM, Unisys, large third-party logistics providers and others have large international footprints and established relationships with shippers, carriers, ports and governments.
Although DHS is kick-starting the concept through a government procurement, officials have suggested they ultimately expect the program to be funded by the private sector. Part of the contractor’s proposal likely will include a plan for how industry will be to participate in such an information-sharing system and pay for IT benefits they may receive.
DHS is “going to have to be able to show they can provide business value” to shippers in order to incentivize them to share data, Banks said. An international database, for example, could enhance the distribution of “Do Not Load” messages by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Currently, Customs notices are sent to ocean carriers through the Automated Manifest System. But many terminal operators are not tied into that system and mix-ups sometimes occur in prematurely releasing containers for delivery. CBP has cracked down in the past year on unauthorized gate exits and penalized terminal operators for mistakes.
“So if they can show there are better ways to communicate this information, that they can get better visibility and see where potential delays are” in their supply chains, then businesses may be willing to adopt the data mining concept, Banks said.
For a full list of EAGLE contractors, go to: http://www.dhs.gov/xopnbiz/opportunities/gc_1162931616739.shtm#0