The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate, Office of University Programs (OUP), is requesting information from the scientific community regarding the continued utilization of Basic Ordering Agreements (BOAs) with current Centers of Excellence (COEs).

DHS S&T intends to fund projects within the scopes of work of existing and future COEs requiring a contracting vehicle. DHS S&T proposes issuing five-year BOAs. The BOAs will be for Homeland Security mission-related unclassified and classified research, development, analysis, and technical services requested by any DHS office or Component agency (Component) that are within the scope of each COE's cooperative agreement.

THIS IS A REQUEST FOR INFORMATION (RFI) ONLY. This RFI is issued solely for market research and planning purposes. It does not constitute a Request for Proposal (RFP) or a promise to issue an RFP. Furthermore, those who respond to this RFI will not receive feedback from DHS to their submissions other than acknowledgment of receipt, provided a submitter requests such an acknowledgement and addresses the mandatory responses/questions at (a)(1) – (a)(11) identified under Section 2.0, Responses Requested. This RFI does not commit the Government to enter into any contractual agreement, nor will the Government pay for any information requested hereunder.

By submitting a response, each respondent agrees that any and all costs the respondent incurs in responding to this request or in support of activities associated with this RFI shall be the sole responsibility of the respondent. The Government shall incur no obligations or liabilities to anyone for any costs or expenses incurred by the respondent in responding to this RFI. Not responding to this RFI does not preclude participation in any future Request for Proposal (RFP). The information provided in this RFI is subject to change and is not binding on the Government or the respondent. All submissions become the property of the Government and will not be returned.

1.0 DESCRIPTION

1.1 Background

The Homeland Security Act of 2002 granted the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) the authority to create university-based COEs using grants, cooperative agreements or contracts. The COEs have significant Homeland Security-related science, technology, engineering, and mathematics capabilities to provide technical services to DHS including: subject matter expertise, laboratories, engineering and other testing facilities, databases, computer models, computer software and hardware, analytical tools, etc.

The COEs are directly aligned with one or more of the DHS Components, creating linkages between DHS and other customers, as well as providing enduring multi-disciplinary research, development, testing, evaluation, education and training capabilities for DHS and the Nation. The COEs are authorized by Congress and chosen by the DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) through a competitive selection process. The designation of "Center of Excellence" is awarded to a university that brings together leading experts and researchers from other institutions, agencies, laboratories, think tanks, and the private sector to conduct multidisciplinary research and education for homeland security solutions.

The S&T OUP's mission is to maximize DHS's return on investment in university-based research and education. OUP funds grants and cooperative agreements to the COEs to establish fundamental research and education programs in specific multi-disciplinary subject matter areas at each COE. DHS S&T expects the universities that comprise the COEs will obtain additional sources of funding beyond OUP's base funding in order to support more directed research, development, testing, evaluation, education and training. Other S&T Divisions and DHS Components frequently need to access the capabilities created by the COEs at the lead or partner universities, e.g. for directed research, analysis, technical services- both unclassified and classified- as well as DHS-specific education and training that cannot be performed under S&T's grants and cooperative agreements. Through this RFI, DHS S&T is pursuing funding strategies to meet emerging requirements.

1.2 Discussion

DHS S&T seeks comments on the use of a BOA to accommodate DHS requirements for COE research, analysis, and technical services-unclassified and classified-, as well as DHS-specific science and engineering education and training. DHS S&T proposes to award a BOA to the current and future COE research lead university, to be renewed once after five years, and again at the end of its period of performance, renewals being subject to suitable COE progress in research, development, test, evaluation, education and training. OUP will determine the need for a BOA for the COE research lead by matching university capabilities with DHS's requirements and needs (S&T will address high priority requirements first).
 

The following thrust areas will be covered under Phase VIII of the COE BOAs:

National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Threats and Emergencies (CREATE)

Food Protection and Defense Institute (FPDI)

Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases (IIAD)

Visual Analytics for Command, Control, and Interoperability Environments (VACCINE)

A BOA enables DHS components to access the capabilities, experience, research results, technology, models and data that the COEs have developed with DHS funding.

Characteristics:

o Versatile umbrella agreements between a federal agency (DHS in this case) and performing institutions (the lead university from the COE)
o Enables contracting officers within the funding agency to issue task orders to performers that are within the scope of the BOA
o Designed to address the needs of DHS for specific research questions with deliverables at an identified cost and on scheduled performance
o Awarded for a five-year period of performance

The task/delivery orders issued under the BOA will be issued non-competitively to the BOA recipient. The total estimated annual value of all orders issued under each BOA is one to three million dollars ($1M-$3M). Experience indicates that current projects have been in the range of $25,000 to $15,000,000 in value. The value of task orders under a new BOA may be lower or higher. DHS S&T anticipates that the COE research lead university will use BOA subcontracts with current or new organizations to access the best possible skills, knowledge, and capabilities needed to address each task order.

The DHS Office of Procurement Operations (OPO) S&T Acquisition Division will issue and administer the BOA. DHS Components' contracting offices will issue and administer their task orders under the BOA, subject to a determination by the S&T contracting officer's representative (COR) that the requested goods or services are within the scope of the BOA. The OPO will publish and issue an ordering guide to explain to ordering officers at all DHS Components how to issue task orders under the BOA. Task orders issued under the BOA will be predominantly firm fixed price. However, the BOA will contain pertinent terms and conditions that will facilitate the issuance of fixed price or cost reimbursement type task orders as determined by the ordering contracting officer of the relevant DHS component.

Designated ordering officers at DHS offices and Components will be able to issue task orders under the COE BOA for unclassified or classified research, scientific or technical analyses, and technical services related to homeland security challenges and solutions. Orders will fit within the broad scope of COE capabilities and may include:

a) Creating technologies and models
b) Utilizing facilities and technologies
c) Providing subject matter expert review, presentation, or testimony
d) Testing and evaluation
e) Conducting analyses or assessments
f) Developing and delivering education and training materials
g) Performing other relevant services within an existing COE scope of work.

CREATE will conduct research and education and deliver results to evaluate the risks, costs, and consequences of terrorism and provide decision support tools to protect the nation. With an emphasis on risk management, risk assessments, and economic assessments, CREATE will examine management of risks from intelligent, adaptive adversaries, uncertainty in terrorism risk management, risk perception and communication, consequences and costs of terrorism, and evaluation of the effectiveness of terrorism risk management approaches.

FPDI will conduct research and education and deliver methods and products that enhances the capability to protect the Nation from accidental or intentional introduction of biological or chemical contaminants into the food system that could devastate the agriculture sectors and the national economy and cause significant public harm. With an emphasis on agent behavior, data and information analysis, and education and outreach, FPDI will explore organizational, policy, business, and technical aspects of food supply chain and food resiliency. FPDI will examine interventions and countermeasures for the detection, protection, and response efforts needed to respond to a food contamination. FPDI will also explore economic and infrastructure consequences of intentional introduction or natural occurrence of hazardous containments in the food system.

IIAD will conduct research and education in agriculture, foreign animal, and zoonotic disease that has a direct impact on homeland security, specifically in areas that address the potential movement of pathogens and diseases in the Nation's complex agricultural system as well as the potential impact to public health. With an emphasis on biological systems, data and information analysis, and education and outreach, IIAD will explore organizational, policy, and technical aspects of animal agriculture resiliency and business continuity. IIAD will examine scientific research and development of new methods for detection, prevention technologies, agent characterization, and dose response relationships for foreign animal and zoonotic diseases.

VACCINE  will create innovative and effective integrated data and visual analytic environments-frameworks, methods, and software that advance the state-of-the-art in analyzing massive, heterogeneous, incomplete, temporally evolving homeland security data for anticipating, detecting, and responding to DHS mission needs. With an emphasis on investigative analysis and anomaly detection, trend identification and predictive analytics, spatiotemporal exploration and visual analytics, and risk-based decision making and resource allocation, VACCINE will examine research and development of technologies, tools and advanced methods in the areas of data analytics and visualization. This will enable operational personnel and decision and policy makers to analyze, understand, and apply diverse, diffuse, and distributed data on threats and manmade or natural disasters in the presence of uncertainty.

The COEs will support DHS by improving its operational capabilities that contribute the Nation's layered defense. The  COEs will work with S&T Offices, such as the Offices of Science & Engineering, and Mission & Capability Support, and DHS Component agencies (e.g. United States Coast Guard (USCG), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office (CWMD), and the Office of Intelligence & Analysis (I&A)).

2.0 RESPONSES REQUESTED

a) Mandatory Responses/Questions:
1) Describe your university's/organization's knowledge, experience, and capacity to administer FAR-based contracts and, in particular, BOAs.
2) Describe your university's/organization's willingness to accept a FAR-based BOA and task/delivery orders under the BOA in fulfillment of future DHS research, analysis, and technical services requirements.
3) Does the award of a BOA impose a burden on your university/organization and on your partner organizations that you cannot accommodate given your institution's current skills, capabilities, experience, and resources? Please explain.
4) Which FAR-based contract type is preferred for orders issued under a BOA, if awarded to your university/organization for COE-related research, analysis, and technical services? [For example: Firm Fixed Price (FFP), Cost Plus Fixed Fee (CPFF), Cost Plus Award Fee (CPAF), Time and Materials (T&M).] Please rank order, from most preferred to least preferred, the contract types listed above.
5) Are you willing and able (having the necessary facilities, practices, procedures, etc.) to accept and perform sensitive but unclassified (SBU) task orders under a FAR-based BOA?
6) Are you willing and able (having the necessary facilities, practices, procedures, etc.) to accept and perform classified task orders under a FAR-based BOA?
7) Describe your understanding and management practices for advancing technologies in the disciplines identified in Section 1.2. This includes describing processes in use at the submitting organization that manages the advancement of research through commercialization and market deployment.
8) Describe the kinds of research, analysis, and technical service projects that your COE/organization might perform for DHS Components under the aforementioned BOA. Include project examples.
9) What other questions or concerns should DHS S&T consider with respect to implementing this BOA contracting approach?
10) Since research performed under this BOA will address DHS mission needs, the availability of the results of such research for publication might be limited. Does this present an issue?
11) Are there any issues regarding intellectual property rights that DHS should consider as it prepares its BOA for issuance? DHS expects to use the FAR clause on data rights 52.227-14 with Alt II, III, & IV. Pursuant to that clause, DHS expects to review scientific articles prior to publication to ensure that DHS's security & mission needs are considered.

3.0 RESPONSE INSTRUCTIONS

At this time, proprietary information is not being requested. Respondents wishing to submit proprietary information should specifically mark or identify any information they perceive as proprietary/confidential for which they seek added protection. To the extent that any proprietary data is submitted with the RFI responses, it will be properly protected by DHS S&T.

Respondents are advised that government support contractors may be involved with the review of the submitted information in addition to DHS employees. All government support contractors needed to review the information will be required to submit non-disclosure/confidentiality statements (if not already on file) with DHS.

4.0 SUBMISSION OF DOCUMENTATION

Respondents, at a minimum, must address the mandatory responses/questions identified under Section 2.0, (a) (1-11) and clearly identify which item is being answered for each response.

Information must contain:

o Name and Address of Firm/Organization
o Business Size of Firm/Organization
o Socio-economic status of Firm/Organization
o Dunn & Bradstreet number for Firm/Organization
o Is your firm/ organization registered with the System for Award Management (SAM) at http://www.sam.gov

Responses are not mandatory to receive a subsequent BOA award.

Responses must be provided no later than 20 business days after the posting of this announcement. DHS will not consider or review unsolicited proposals submitted in response to this RFI. Requirement of responses: pages numbers must be placed at the bottom left-hand corner, 12-point font, 1-inch margins, 8.5" by 11" paper, and no more than six (6) pages in length, including images, data displays, charts, graphs, and tables. Respondents must submit their information in electronic versions to DHSCOEBOA@HQ.DHS.GOV and the Contract Specialist jessica.wilson@hq.dhs.gov and must be in either Word or PDF format. The email "Subject" line must include the words "BOA Phase VIII RFI Response."

All interested parties should email their questions to BOTH points of contact below:

DHSCOEBOA@HQ.DHS.GOV

AND

Jessica Wilson
Contracting Officer
jessica.wilson@hq.dhs.gov