DHS Undersecretary for Management Rafael Borras said electronic bids will allow companies to focus on their proposals and not waste money on paper or the packaging of paper proposals. (Thomas Brown / Staff)
Department of Homeland Security contractors will soon be able to submit all bids electronically — most are submitted on paper now — in one of the improvements department officials promised Thursday at DHS Industry Day in Washington.
Undersecretary for Management Rafael Borras said he is directing officials to create web-based portals for electronic bids. That way companies can focus on their proposals and not waste money on paper or the packaging of paper proposals, he said.
DHS also will hold forums where companies can ask questions about upcoming projects before requests for proposal are issued, Borras said.
Companies frequently complain that by the time a request for proposal is issued, it is too late to clarify the requirements being sought, Borras said.
The requirements often need clarification, said Stan Soloway, president of the Professional Services Council trade association, who led a discussion among DHS officials at the daylong event. The requirements that program officers write can be translated inaccurately when procurement officers write them in a contract, he said.
Most problems on major Coast Guard programs can be traced back to an issue with how the requirement was written, said Mike Tangora, Coast Guard director of acquisition services.
"You have to have trained requirement people," he said. "They have to understand what they're putting on paper and telling me to purchase. [The requirement] locks in a lot of things."
The forums on upcoming projects will allow agencies to better explain what their problems are and discuss potential solutions with industry before they try to write the requirements, said Luke McCormack, chief information officer for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.