DHS dumps Anser, picks up Rand for $494M research center

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The Department of Homeland Security has awarded a five-year, $494-million contract for a Federally Funded Research and Development Center, or FFRDC, to Santa Monica, Calif.-based Rand Corp., displacing the incumbent Anser Corp.

The new FFRDC will replace the existing DHS Homeland Security Studies and Analysis Institute run by Anser out of Falls Church, Va., DHS Science and Technology Directorate spokesman John Verrico told FedScoop.

The new center will have “a different set of focus areas, aligned more closely with current DHS priorities,” the head of the directorate’s FFRDC Program Management Office Scott Randels told FedScoop in an interview.

“We are refocussing [the FFRDC’s work] based on today’s world,” he said.

DHS’ announcement says the new FFRDC, the Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center, will have seven focus areas. The original procurement announcement last year listed just five: 

  • Acquisition Studies; 
  • Homeland Security Threat & Opportunity Studies; 
  • Organizational Studies; 
  • Regulatory Doctrine & Policy Studies; and 
  • Operational Studies. 

As part of a series of amendments to the original procurement made last year and this, two more were added: 

  • Research and Development Studies; and 
  • Innovation & Technology Acceleration.

“We are trying to engage the entrepreneurial community,” said Randels, mentioning the S&T Directorate’s use of prizes and challenge contests. Independent research from the center would help program managers with questions like, “If I run a prize contest, what kind should it be? … For a design or the development of a prototype? … What [cash] level of prize … [would attract the right kind of entrants]? … How can I transition [the prize-winner] to the commercial space?” 

He said the procurement was a so-called “indefinite duration, indefinite quantity” or IDIQ contract — a kind of blanket deal, under which the department issues individual “task orders” for specific pieces of work, which are then reimbursed on a cost-plus basis. DHS’ 22 individual components could directly issue task orders under the contract, said Randels, and the $494 million was a ceiling on the total value of those over five years.

Anser has run the FFRDC since it was first established as the Homeland Security Institute in 2004. It was reorganized as the Homeland Security Studies and Analysis Institute in 2009. The procurement was originally scheduled for 2014.

“Over the last 11 years, HSSAI has completed more than 650 studies and related analyses for DHS and other agencies,” Anser says on its website. The company did not respond to a request for comment.

Both Rand and Anser are nonprofit think tanks with historic links to the U.S. Air Force.

“As we look at a world of new and emerging requirements, it’s important that our newest FFRDC can meet those requirements. DHS’s contract with Rand Corporation will ensure that [the center] provides DHS with expert products,” Deputy Undersecretary for Science and Technology Robert Griffin said in a statement.

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Anser, FFRDC, Rand Corp
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