DHS IT Contracting:

Steps Taken to Enhance EAGLE II Small Business Opportunities, but Better Assessment Data Needed

GAO-15-551: Published: Jun 24, 2015. Publicly Released: Jun 24, 2015.

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(202) 512-4841
mackinm@gao.gov

 

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What GAO Found

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) procurement officials reported taking three key steps to enhance small business participation in the Enterprise Acquisition Gateway for Leading-Edge Solutions II (EAGLE II) contracts:

Creating small business tracks within each of EAGLE II's three lines of business, including socioeconomic set-aside tracks, to exclusively target competitions to small businesses in the first line of business. See table.

Set-Aside Tracks for Each of EAGLE II's Lines of Business

 

Eagle II lines of business

 

Small business track

Unrestricted track

 

8(a)

HUBZone

SDVOSB

All Small

 

Software design and development

Information technology program support services

 

   

Independent verification and validation

 

   

Source: GAO analysis of DHS data. | GAO-15-551

Note: 8(a) refers to the 8(a) Business Development Program; HUBZone refers to the Historically Underutilized Business Zone program, and SDVOSB refers to the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business program.

Establishing a process to maintain a steady pool of eligible small businesses by reopening the EAGLE II solicitation after requiring businesses that outgrow their small size status to leave the program.

Requiring small business track prime contractors to team only with other small businesses.

As of March 2015, DHS had issued 74 EAGLE II task orders worth an estimated $591 million, almost all of which—94 percent—went to small businesses. However, it is too soon to evaluate the full impact of these steps because only about 3 percent of the anticipated $22 billion in task orders have been issued.

DHS established five goals for EAGLE II and developed performance measures to assess progress in meeting most of them. DHS established performance measures for the three EAGLE II goals related to cost savings and efficiencies through a methodology to assess cost savings, but has not fully set performance measures for the remaining two, relating to (1) the small business socioeconomic goal and (2) enhancing DHS mission capabilities. For its socioeconomic goal, DHS assesses progress via the percentage of the value of orders issued to small businesses. However, DHS does not assess whether use of team members (other small businesses) supports this goal, although DHS procurement officials told us teaming is key to enhancing small business participation. Further, DHS has not set a performance measure for assessing how the use of teaming coordinators contributes to the EAGLE II goal of enhancing DHS's mission capabilities. According to DHS, prime contractors are required to have teaming coordinators identify subcontractors with innovative services. Federal internal control standards highlight the importance of developing measures to compare expected outcomes to actual results. Without such measures, it will be difficult for DHS to have needed information to assess the extent to which the use of team members and teaming coordinators contribute toward their respective EAGLE II goals.

Why GAO Did This Study

DHS's EAGLE II is a suite of strategic sourcing contracts, valued at $22 billion, which serves as DHS's mandatory source for information technology services. Strategic sourcing is a process that moves an organization away from numerous individual procurements toward a broader aggregate approach to achieve cost savings and other efficiencies. The small business community has raised questions about strategic sourcing reducing contracting opportunities.

GAO was asked to examine the EAGLE II program. This report assesses (1) key steps DHS has taken to enhance small business participation and (2) EAGLE II goals, performance measures, and progress made to date. GAO reviewed EAGLE II acquisition planning documents and interviewed DHS procurement and small business staff. GAO analyzed federal procurement data from fiscal year 2013 through the second quarter of fiscal year 2015 and assessed reliability by comparing data to a nonprobability sample of 10 EAGLE II contracts selected from a variety of DHS components.

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends the Secretary of Homeland Security support implementation of EAGLE II goals by assessing the use of team members and teaming coordinators. DHS did not concur with GAO recommendations, citing actions already taken in soliciting and awarding the contracts. GAO believes there is still value in assessing whether team members are used for task orders, and that DHS's plan to survey EAGLE II users has merit.

For more information, contact Michele Mackin at (202) 512-4841 or mackinm@gao.gov.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DHS did not agree with our recommendation and reported that steps it already took during the solicitation phase as well as the ordering procedures and safeguards included in the awarded EAGLE II contracts have effectively achieved promoted small business participation. However, DHS provided examples of how existing vendor feedback mechanisms such as the DHS Ombudsman and the Small Business advocate office have been used by EAGLE II small business core team members to convey concerns to DHS. These actions are responsive to our recommendation.

    Recommendation: To support effective implementation of EAGLE II goals for enhancing small business participation and access to innovative technology, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer to collect and review information on the use of small business core team members to determine whether their use is helping to increase small business participation.

    Agency Affected: Department of Homeland Security

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The DHS Chief Procurement Office developed an EAGLE II survey and sent it out to the DHS community of Contracting Officers, Specialists, Contracting Officer Representatives (COR), Program Mangers, and contractors. According to DHS CPO officials, survey responses indicated that innovation was being achieved based on feedback from DHS contracting officers and program managers.

    Recommendation: To support effective implementation of EAGLE II goals for enhancing small business participation and access to innovative technology, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer to collect and review information to assess how teaming coordinators have provided DHS with greater access to innovative technology.

    Agency Affected: Department of Homeland Security

 

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