Monday, May 20, 2013



Note: of interest mostly to govt. and industry folks.

Comment: Believe the fixed tower concept remains flawed. There are
mobile systems that can be delivered and maintained by air. Modern
communication links can also be set up. As with the terror groups,
the drug and human smuggling operations have proven to be very flexible.

EXCLUSIVE: CBP Makes 'Down Selects' For IFT, RVSS Programs; IFT Award
In Early 2014, Agency Says
By: Anthony Kimery
05/19/2013 ( 1:45pm)

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has selected the companies that
will participate in the final competition for the contracts to build
the agency's two biggest pending technology projects: the $1.14
billion Integrated Fixed Towers (IFT) program and the $224 million
Remote Video Surveillance System (RVSS), CBP told Homeland Security

Confirming the "down selects" in a statement to Homeland Security
Today, a CBP spokesperson said "We have made the competitive range
determinations for both RVSS and IFTs. Bidders selected in the
competitive range will continue through the remaining steps of the
source selection and contracting process."

Not surprisingly, there were expected, and unexpected, winners and
losers, according to numerous sources familiar with the matter. Among
the companies said to have been selected for the IFT competitive
range determinations include SAIC, DRS Technologies, Inc., Elbit
Systems of America, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics.

Homeland Security Today was unable by press time to independently
confirm from any of the identified companies that they'd been
selected for the final IFT demonstration competition.

In its statement to Homeland Security Today, CBP declined to identify
the companies, but CBP does not generally announce down selects.

Ken Marien, OTIA IFT Portfolio Manager, had said at the Feb. 17, 2011
Southwest Border Technology Solutions Industry Day that the IFT
contracting process "May include 'down select' and system
demonstrations" prior to a final contract award.

The post-Secure Border Initiative (SBInet) IFT sensor program is a
multi-million dollar effort to monitor Border Patrol's gaps along the
Southwestern border by "provid[ing] automated, persistent wide area
surveillance for the detection, tracking, identification and
classification of illegal border incursions between ports of entry,"
according to CBP.

The program apparently is a winner-take-all competition that CBP has
been taking its time making decisions about. The Request for Proposal
(RFP) was issued in April, 2012.

Kurt Guth, CBP's Director of Systems Engineering, has publicly made
no bones about saying that the IFT competition in particular is a
virtual "winner-take-all" proposition.

"These two down select milestones in the two largest CBP OTIA [Office
of Technology Innovation and Acquisition] procurements is significant
in two respects," according to one of the sources familiar with the
matter. "One, it indicates that CBP OTIA is on track -- though
significantly delayed from their original schedule -- and is pushing
forward toward awards. Two, the decisions were either a relief to
those that were down selected, or a crushing blow to those that were
not. This is because most vendors had a multi-million dollar expense
in their bids and the costs were increasing as they lingered, waiting
for a government decision. And the expenses continue for those down
selected until such time as an award is made."

An outgrowth of the problem-ridden SBInet, The IFT initiative is
supposed to leverage the lessons learned from the program
specifically by pursuing a non-developmental system procurement
approach and opting for a fixed-price contract, according to CBP.

If the agency's "fully-integrated, non-developmental IFT systems"
works as envisioned, Border Patrol agents will have greatly expanded
capabilities to remotely sense, detect and even to distinguish
between who or what is crossing the nation's borders.

Authorities familiar with the programs said the RVSS contract award
is "imminent," but CBP's spokesperson said "we expect the [RVSS]
contract award to occur this summer."

As for the IFT award, that "will take a bit longer," CBP's
spokesperson told Homeland Security Today. "We expect the IFT
contract will be awarded in the first quarter of fiscal year 2014."

OTIA had earlier indicated that the IFT award could be made this
Fall, and in Feb. CBP said on an IFT website the award would be made
in August.

Industry sources though told Homeland Security Today they believed
the IFT award could still be announced in Sept. at the earliest.

CBP said last Oct. that it was going to take longer to award its IFT
contract than originally anticipated because of the number of bids it
had received that at that time it had just began to evaluate.

Short staffed, but wanting to thoroughly contemplate the IFT RFP
responses, Mark Borkowski, CBP Assistant Commissioner for OTIA,
implied at a congressional hearing last Fall that an IFT contract
announcement could be three or more months down the road.

The CBP spokesperson told Homeland Security Today that "For IFT, we
added an additional activity -- bidders remaining must provide
demonstrations of their proposed solutions so we can have confidence
that those systems are, in fact, designed and producible and that
they can perform as the bidder has promised."

According to one source, CBP "has pretty much thrown the [successful
bidders'] proposals out the window because the award will be given to
the company that does the best demonstration."

"And they all better do a good job on the required five IFT demo,"
the source said, explaining that Borkowski "has pretty much told
them, 'you've all submitted great proposals about what you can do,
now prove it!'"

Borkowski had previously made clear that the companies bidding on the
IFT contract "get it" -- they understand CBP wants technology that's
basically plug-and-play -- technology that will perform as expected
right out of the box.

However, because of both funding and congressional concerns, CBP most
likely will select a single contractor who is immediately capable of
providing an "out-of-the-box" single IFT configuration, Borkowski has
said … and which, he's also indicated, could result in protests of a
single contractor award, which is something agency officials have
said they anticipate. CBP officials also have said the IFT contract
must be a "totality of performance" solution.

It's widely speculated that OTIA isn't inclined to go with a big lead
system integrator because of the SBInet fiasco, and instead will
likely take a closer look at mid-tier integrators.

OTIA's Marien had made clear at the Feb. 17, 2011 Southwest Border
Technology Solutions Industry Day that "The government will have a
strong preference for open architecture (plug and play) solutions,"
and "is looking for complete, fully integrated and proven commercial

CBP "is not interested in solutions that require measurable
developmental/integration effort," he said.

The IFT systems will consist of surveillance equipment (e.g., ground
surveillance radars and surveillance cameras) mounted on fixed (i.e.,
stationary) tower(s); all necessary power generation and
communications equipment to support these tower sites; and command
and control (C2) center equipment (including one or more operator
workstations) that are capable of displaying information received
from surveillance towers on a common operating picture (COP).

Developed by OTIA to "encompass open system architecture," the
undisputed high stakes Secure Border Initiative Acquisition Office
IFT contract solicitation explained that "the IFT procurement is one
element of a broader CBP strategy to rapidly acquire non-
developmental (and ideally commercially available) systems to support
border protection efforts."

The IFT program incorporates valuable lessons learned from the ill-
fated SBInet effort, CBP has said, including abandonment of
developing a "one size fits all" solution in favor of procuring
commercially available technologies for a firm fixed-price vehicle.
The agency also has taken the added step of specifying that
respondents to the RFP demonstrate the performance of their proposed
system during the source selection process, and are also being
proactive in finalizing the sensor site locations and ensuring that
the required environmental reviews and approvals are completed prior
to contract award.

The Fiscal Year 2012 (FY12) House Homeland Security Appropriations
Conference Report had noted that the committee "has consistently
directed that CBP employ a comprehensive strategy for achieving
operational control of the border, including identifying and
utilizing the right mix of people, infrastructure and technology."

Repeatedly questioned about the IFT program's direction and
criticized for its less than stellar shove-off, both CBP's 2009-2014
Strategic Plan and Border Patrol's new 2012-2016 national strategy
emphasized CBP must establish and maintain effective control of air,
land and maritime borders through the use of the appropriate mix of
infrastructure, technology and personnel.

In August, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House
Committee on Homeland Security, wrote that the Department of Homeland
Security (DHS) "does not use the necessary tools to ensure rigorous
oversight of its acquisition programs, including those managed by its
component agencies. Specifically, the manner in which DHS manages its
acquisition investments has been flawed."

The conference report added that "the procurement should take place
through a full and open competition, which the department asserts
will result in swift deployment of additional integrated fixed tower
systems. The facts are contrary to this assertion. It took four years
of painstaking work with the SBInet system for the Border Patrol to
state that the system is working and has borne successes. Further,
the department acknowledges that integrated fixed tower systems are
not a commoditized asset. Additionally, the requirements for an
integrated fixed tower system include integration of assets into a
'common operating picture,' something that CBP will now have to
undertake itself."

The report further noted that "it is unclear how the department's
acquisition approach for additional integrated fixed tower systems
fits with the premise of the Arizona Border Technology Plan, namely
to procure and deploy off-the-shelf technology for an intended
immediate benefit. As a result of this concern, as well as
anticipation of procurement delays, the committee has reduced the
funds available for this activity. Further, the committee directs CBP
to include in its detailed expenditure plan for fiscal year 2012 as
well as its multi-year investment and management plan for fiscal
years 2013–2016 and thereafter, the rationale for its approach."

As a result, in its RFP, CBP said the "IFT program has taken many
positive steps that should provide a firm foundation for successfully
delivering the needed capability; however, a better indication of the
direction the program is taking will come after the RFP is released
and the contract is awarded. As a result of this approach, CBP's CIO
assessed the IFT program as Medium Risk."

CBP and Border Patrol believe the IFT concept addresses not only
Congress' concerns, but the technological components necessary to
keep the border under a constant watchful eye as a result of the
lessons learned from the botched SBINet initiative.

According to CBP documents, a segment of the border between Ports of
Entry (PoE) is considered under effective control when CBP can
simultaneously and consistently achieve the following: detect illegal
entries into the United States, identify and classify these entries
to determine the level of the threat, efficiently and effectively
respond to these entries and bring each event to a satisfactory law
enforcement resolution.

Consequently, persistent surveillance is the critical capability --
the lynchpin, if you will -- that CBP must have in place and in
operating order to establish and maintain control of the nation's
border. Long range persistent surveillance enables CBP to efficiently
and effectively manage rural and remote areas of interest.

Accordingly, CBP says it is leveraging mobile surveillance
capabilities to the greatest extent possible because of the ability
to redeploy these resources as border threats change the routes they
use along the border to conduct their criminal enterprises.

However, CBP noted that these systems can only be deployed where
sufficient road infrastructure exists and land mobile voice
communications are reliable. In threat areas where mobile
surveillance systems cannot be a viable and/or long term solution,
IFTs equipped with sensor suites and communication equipment can be
deployed to provide automated, persistent wide area surveillance for
the detection, tracking, identification and classification of illegal


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