The Department of Homeland Security announced April 9 that it will use a recently established pilot program to procure innovative tools to assist in its fight against the new coronavirus.

The new effort comes on the heels of an April 1 announcement from DHS chief procurement officer Soraya Correa, who said the department will set up a Procurement & Acquisition Innovation Response team to handle the influx of industry inquiries looking to help the department with its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The effort will involve DHS’ Commercial Solutions Opening Pilot program, established by the fiscal 2017 defense policy law and kicked off in 2019, which allows DHS to procure new commercial technologies at a faster and more efficient rate.

The department’s needs are broad, ranging from handling the shortage of personal protective equipment to converting logistics operations to support its pandemic response.

“DHS is seeking innovative commercial products that are in support of the COVID-19 response or similar microbial threats,” the special notice said. “Considering the magnitude and potential threat that COVID-19 and similar microbial threats pose to our nation’s health, safety and security, the Government seeks to rapidly accelerate the testing and fielding of new capabilities, employing innovative commercial products to the detection of exposure, prevention, containment and treatment of COVID-19 and similar microbial threats."

Specifically, the agency is looking for products that:

  • Supplement shortages and/or emerging needs for personal protective equipment.
  • Enhance or expedite screening capabilities.
  • Enhance or expedite facility cleaning capabilities.
  • Extend testing capabilities.
  • Utilize technology to support the COVID-19 response.
  • Convert existing production and logistics operations to support the COVID-19 response.

According to the notice, the products would be used to support the Department of Health and Human Services as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is taking the lead for the federal government’s response to the virus.

“An important aspect of this objective is to support the efficient acquisition and testing of innovative commercial products from legitimate suppliers, as well as the efficient production and fielding of the successfully tested innovative commercial products,” the notice said.

DHS plans to make awards in fiscal 2020. According to the notice, the general solicitation describing the solicitation and evaluation process is slated for release on April 14.

Andrew Eversden covers all things defense technology for C4ISRNET. He previously reported on federal IT and cybersecurity for Federal Times and Fifth Domain, and worked as a congressional reporting fellow for the Texas Tribune. He was also a Washington intern for the Durango Herald. Andrew is a graduate of American University.

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