September 27, 2021

DHS Soliciting Small and 8(a) Business Capabilities for $181 Million Cybersecurity Contract

Holland & Knight Government Contracts Blog
Robert K. Tompkins | Hillary J. Freund | Kelsey M. Hayes
Government Contracts Blog

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a component of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has issued a request for information (RFI) seeking information from industry, and in particular small and 8(a) businesses, as it formulates its approach to a new Cyber Security Support Services (CSSS) contract. The RFI indicates that USCIS plans to set the CSSS contract aside for one or more small or 8(a) businesses. Potential offerors are invited to submit capabilities statements by the RFI's deadline of Sept. 29, 2021, at 4:00 p.m. EST.

The RFI suggests USCIS is considering whether to classify the procurement under North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code 541512, Computer Systems Design, or NAICS code 541519, Other Computer Related Services, each of which correspond to a small business size standard of $30 million. NAICS code 541519 includes an exception, however, for Information Technology Value Added Resellers (ITVAR) of 150 employees (known as the "Footnote 18" exception).

This initiative is part of a fast-accelerating approach to cybersecurity procurement being carried out by USCIS, with the agency's cybersecurity spending nearly doubling from fiscal year 2020 to fiscal year 2021.

The USCIS's decision to seek small and 8(a) contractors to support its needs also appears to be an extension of past practice. USCIS has previously acquired similar services using 8(a) contract vehicles, including the 8(a) Streamlined Acquisition Technology Acquisition Resources for Services (STARS) Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC).

Interested potential offerors should submit a capabilities statement by the Sept. 29 deadline. The RFI invites respondents to outline their experience and capabilities under eight topics, each containing multiple subtopics, and to list their current contract vehicles and whether or not they are a small business, Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) small business, Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), 8(a) small business, Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) or small disadvantaged business (SDB). Responses are limited to eight pages, plus a one-page cover letter.

The RFI process is an important part of the USCIS's market research required by the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). Among other things, to justify a small or 8(a) set-aside procurement, the USCIS's market research must demonstrate that there are at least two small or 8(a) small businesses capable of performing at a fair and reasonable price that are likely to submit offers. See FAR 19.505-2(b). In addition, the RFI and other market research provides potential offerors with an opportunity to educate the USCIS about potential innovations or approaches that might inform the drafting of the statement of work.

If you have questions or want to learn more about any of the topics discussed in this article, please contact the authors.

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