The State Department is opening a competition potentially worth more than $1 billion to provide a variety of security services, from screening for explosives to improving the protection of technical equipment.
The department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security is overseeing the initiative, which would take the place of a contract awarded to Siemens Government Services in 2005. That deal expires in 2011.
Ashley Bergander, manager of federal programs with government contracting market analysis company FedSources, said she anticipates an aggressive competition.
Siemens “obviously has an advantage because they’re the incumbent,” she said. “But just in the kind of [tight budgetary] environment the government’s in right now . . . I think that it’s kind of a fair game for anyone.”
Though the actual contract value will depend on awards, Bergander said looking to the past contract suggests the new version could very well be worth more than $1 billion. The original contract was initially capped at $550 million, she said, but that total was adjusted and current spending on the contract has topped $1 billion.
Alexander Rossino, a principal analyst with Input, a firm that studies the government contracting market, said it’s likely — but not yet fully clarified — that the program will be split into several contracts, providing more shots for contractors. Some work could be set aside for small businesses, and there will certainly be subcontractor opportunities for smaller companies.
Hundreds of companies that use Input have marked the program of interest, according to Rossino.
“It looks like it’s going to end up being a contract that combines standard security operations — [like] setting up security barriers — [with] also implementing security systems,” said Rossino, who added that the contract could have a cybersecurity element. However, he cautioned that State Department officials have been tight-lipped about the initiative.
The security market — and particularly providing security services overseas — is considered less susceptible to budget cuts.
For contractors, “it would be good to get your foot in the door with the Department of State because there is going to be more growth in that kind of area,” said Bergander.
— by Marjorie Censer – The Washington Post – January 3, 2011