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DHS seeks up to $1.5 billion in covert audio and video surveillance gear

DHS intends to procure as much as $1.5 billion worth of covert audio and video surveillance equipment during the next five years to support investigative work by its own components and those of other federal agencies.

The required equipment will include covert wireless and IP video systems as well as small, concealed body-worn audio systems, according to a solicitation announced on Feb. 16 by the DHS office of procurement operations. Prospective vendors have until March 16 to submit their proposals.

DHS was tight-lipped on the specific purposes to which this gear will be put, but indicated it wants “a full array of audio and video surveillance equipment and ancillary services in support of the DHS Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) and the Federal Technical Operations Working Group (TOWG).”

The solicitation explains that DHS envisions making several different indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) awards under a Government-wide Acquisition Contract (GWAC). “The contracts will only be available to DHS components or other Federal agencies having statutory law enforcement authority and authorization to possess and use this equipment,” says the official RFP.

Among the mission areas that might qualify for such covert investigatory gear are customs and border protection interdictions, border patrol enforcement, mine safety and health inspections, wage and hour investigations, equal opportunity investigations, import compliance and criminal investigations, says the RFP.

The video systems being sought by DHS include both wireless systems that operate in the L, C or S bands and Internet Protocol (IP) systems. The devices include transmitters, IP cameras, receivers, repeaters and concealments. On the wireless systems, “video transmitter emissions are typically monitored by a single receiving device but may be monitored by multiple receiving devices, depending on the specific design or the transmitter,” explains the RFP. DHS said it will not describe the “concealment types” due to their sensitive nature. AES 128 encryption or greater is expected to be incorporated into such wireless video systems.

The required IP video systems will consist of a camera with a built-in computer server which is accessible from a remote PC with a Web browser. “The systems typically support image compression for bandwidth conservation and camera remote pan/tilt controls,” says the DHS document.

“Audio Recorders are typically small body worn devices, which can easily be concealed for covert use, and they provide stereo as well as mono audio recording through internal microphones,” says the RFP. Again, DHS says it will not publish a listing of concealment methods for these covert audio devices.

DHS is encouraging teaming arrangements among vendors of audio and video equipment. “Prospective offerors that do not believe they will be among the most highly rated competitors should instead pursue subcontracting/teaming opportunities with other offerors,” says the solicitation.

Further information is available from Carrie Herndon, a DHS acting associate director, at 202-447-5559 or [email protected].


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