The Department of Homeland Security is getting ready to award a major support contract for the National Cybersecurity Protection System and Einstein program, the agency's main tool for detecting and blocking cyber threats on federal networks.

The award for the Development, Operations and Maintenance (DOMino) contract is expected to drop soon — likely by the end of August or early September.

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Officials have kept details of the classified procurement close, though those with knowledge of the program said it will be a major piece of DHS's cybersecurity strategy.

The winning contractors will be working directly with the NCPS to enhance DHS's ability to monitor networks on the .gov domain and build the future of Einstein.

The detection program currently runs on most civilian federal networks, with the next iteration, Einstein III Accelerated (E3A) — designed to block known cyber threats — being rolled out through 2016.

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"The DOMino contract will provide services to operate and maintain existing Einstein capabilities and will also be used to design and develop new cybersecurity capabilities for the NCPS," said DHS spokesman S.Y. Lee.

The work on DOMino will include managing and upgrading DHS's intrusion detection, analytics, information sharing and intrusion prevention capabilities, according to Lee.

"These combined capabilities provide a foundation for defending the federal civilian government's information technology infrastructure against cyber threats," he said.

The limited competition indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract will have a five-year base performance period.

Aaron Boyd is an awarding-winning journalist currently serving as editor of Federal Times — a Washington, D.C. institution covering federal workforce and contracting for more than 50 years — and Fifth Domain — a news and information hub focused on cybersecurity and cyberwar from a civilian, military and international perspective.

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