Upcoming Information Technology Opportunities at the U.S. Department of Agriculture

Published: February 19, 2020

Federal Market AnalysisUSDABudgetInformation Technology

USDA components move out on software and other IT requirements.

For several years now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been leading the way in funding information technology investments through its Working Capital Fund (WCF). This trend continues in fiscal year 2021 as the department plans to invest millions of dollars into new programs using more flexibly available WCF dollars. The nine programs listed below come from the USDA’s FY 2021 budget documents, and they include IT services requirements, such as software development, as well as the procurement of commodity IT products. To my knowledge, none of these acquisitions has moved forward yet, suggesting that interested vendors keep an eye on the GovWin IQ portal for Sources Sought and other notices, or make inquiries among their sources at the USDA.

IT and IT-Related Requirements To Be Procured  

Conference Transparency and Accountability Tool (CTAT) ($400K) – Planned to be a “tool for tracking conference attendance across the USDA,” the CTAT will give USDA components the ability to organize conferences based on anticipated attendance. USDA makes no mention of the solution to be employed being a commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) product so presumably the requirement will entail software development services to build the new tool itself.

Enterprise Physical Access Control System (ePACS) ($60K) – USDA intends to integrate its Headquarters Physical Access Control System (HQ-PACS) into a new Enterprise-Wide Physical Access Control System (ePACS). The description of the work required suggests this acquisition will include legacy system integration services.

Headquarters Camera Monitoring System ($2.5M) – The first of a three phase project, the Headquarters Camera Monitoring System is intended to “replace existing outdated Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) software, monitoring and recording capabilities located in the Emergency Communications Center.” Funding for this project will be used to 1) procure new infrastructure for the video management system; 2) establish a network to provide communications for future cameras; and 3) install new cameras around the USDA South and Whitten Buildings.

Physical Security Assessment System ($600K) – This new system will collect critical data related to physical security measures at USDA facilities and campuses around the U.S. Presumably, the USDA will seek a COTS solution for this requirement before resorting to having one built by an industry partner.

Performance Appraisal Management (PAM) ($1.6M) – The USDA requires “a secure, data-centric solution to capture performance evaluations” required by Section 5 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). PAM will be built on an existing platform developed by USDA using agile methodology.

Food Safety and Inspection Service Laboratory IT Infrastructure Modernization ($5M) – The FSIS needs to modernize the IT infrastructure it owns supporting FSIS laboratories. Requirements will include “equipment and hardware (laboratory testing instruments with highly customized operating systems)” as well as COTS software “and internally developed applications and data spread across three locations in the U.S.”

Secure Virtual Lockup ($1M) – A software solution intended to allow remotely-deployed Economic Research Service (ERS) staff to participate in highly confidential interagency meetings critical for the development of USDA World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates. Requirements will likely include system deployment and engineering services as well as the SVL platform itself.

USDA Scientific and Research Big Data Platform ($5M) – An Agriculture Research Service (ARS) initiative, the goal is to develop an enhanced version of the ARS SCINet application as a shared service that can be leveraged by all of USDA. Eventually, the Big Data Platform will be deployed as a “centrally managed network and user interface available to all of USDA to support unique scientific and research needs.” Systems engineering services are likely to be required in addition to the analytics platform for the new SCINet.

Modernized Customer Experience Portal ($650K) – The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) requires a Modernized Customer Experience Portal that permits the “ability to assess near real-time impacts of severe weather events affecting planting dates and crop conditions during the growing season.” The prototype solution will be required to “leverage geospatial data, producer reported survey data, precision agriculture data, and other USDA and Non-USDA sources.” Software development and systems engineering skills will likely be required.