Request for Information for the Department of Homeland Security


For updates on all previous submissions to this Request for Information, please click here.


The submission period for this opportunity has ended.

Introduction

We have received a Request for Information (RFI) from our partner, The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology (S&T) Office of University Programs (OUP) issuing a Request for Information (RFI). The intended purpose of this RFI is to provide the government with insights, interest, and capabilities relating to three (3) draft research topics sponsored by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). MSRDC is requesting applicants submit the information in the form of QUAD Charts. Interested parties may provide additional information in the form of a white paper, but this is not a requirement. Submissions are due by the applicable due date and time outlined in the RFI. This RFI is voluntary and does not eliminate any consortium member from responding to any forthcoming Request for Proposal (RFP) projects. To ensure uniformity in assessing all responses, MSRDC request that you follow the following guidelines.


Quad Chart Submissions

Offerors shall prepare and upload a one-page (8 ½ by 11 inches) Quad Chart in response to this RFI. Use font sizes of 10 point or greater. Only one page is will be considered for evaluation.

Due Date and Time: MSRDC requests your quad chart via email to info@msrdconsortium.org no later than (NLT) 3:00PM, Monday, April 29, 2019.

Electronic File Format: Submit Quad Chart to MSRDC in Microsoft Office (Word or PowerPoint), MSRDC will convert files to Adobe Acrobat (PDF – portable document format). ZIP files and other application formats are not acceptable. The document must be print-capable, without password, and no larger than 1024 KB. File names must contain the appropriate file name extension (.doc/.docx, .ppt/.pptx). File names cannot contain spaces nor special characters.

Additionally, with all Quad Chart submissions, please include the name, phone and email of the following individuals:

  • Department Chair/Dean
  • Designated Pre-Award administration contact person
  • Authorized Organization Representative (AOR)


Quad Chart Content

A Quad Chart conveys the essence of the proposed solution for a single requirement. When preparing a submission, the offeror shall ensure they address the specific criteria of the requirement, the solution is clear, and project achievement is possible with the proposed technology, cost, and schedule. The Quad Chart includes a document header and four quadrants. The Quad Chart format and sample are provided as separate documents.

  1. Header Information: Header information shall include Agency Name, Project Reference, and the Proposal Title. The date and member name should be included along with the appropriate document markings.
  2. Top Left Quadrant, Graphical Depiction: The top left quadrant is a graphical depiction, photograph, or artist’s concept of the proposed solution or prototype. Include labels or brief descriptive text as needed for clarification. Ideally, this will convey the prototype concept, use, capability, and any relevant size or weight relationships based on the published requirement.
  3. Top Right Quadrant, Operational and Performance Capabilities: The top right quadrant contains the operational and performance capabilities summary. Describe any basic, new, or enhanced capabilities the system will provide to meet the published requirement. In bullet form, list key aspects of performance, capability, operational use, relevant software or hardware specifications, and planned interface and/or compatibility. The offeror is only required to submit past performance information in response to a request for Full Proposal.
  4. Bottom Left Quadrant, Technical Approach: The bottom left quadrant contains the proposed technical approach. Specifically, describe the technology involved, how it will be used to solve the problem, actions done to date, and any related ongoing efforts. Briefly describe the tasks to be performed for each phase. A bullet list is acceptable.
  5. Bottom Right Quadrant, Cost and Schedule: The bottom right quadrant contains the Rough Order of Magnitude (ROM) and Schedule, Products and Deliverables, and Contact Information. ROM and Schedule shall be proposed by phase and include the cost, Period of Performance (POP), and exit criteria for each phase. A total cost and POP that combines all phases shall also be included. Products and Deliverables shall include, by phase, a list of all prototype hardware and software along with the required data as described in “Product and Deliverable Requirements” in section 2 of this document. Contact Information shall include the submitter’s company name, POC, phone number, and email address. Include any significant teaming partner (contact information) relevant to the evaluation.

Additional supporting Documentation: Offers may provide supporting documentation not to exceed 3 pages. Supporting documentation may be in the form of a project synopsis, responses to project questions and rhetorical questions regarding the Project descriptions, background on Faculty PIs, Collaboration Partners, Capabilities, Students, Facilities, project relevant Publication references, and past experience with DHS components, to name a few.

Debriefings for Quad Charts and supporting documentation will not be conducted. In general, RFI submissions are used for the purpose of determining the applicability of the DHS Projects to MSRDC member capabilities. The government reserves the right to amend or replace any project with a different project topic without any further review. However, it is up to and in the interest of the government to issue a follow-on Request for Project Proposal.

The Department of Homeland Security is the latest agency to partner with MSRDC and the first civilian agency. MSRDC encourages all interested institutions to respond to this RFI.


Utilization of Minority Serving Institutions in Addressing DHS Research and Development Capability Gaps


Project 1: United States Coast Guard (USCG) – Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) – Coastal and Marine Critical Infrastructure Development

According to the Maritime Transportation System Security Plan, the Maritime Transportation System (MTS) is important to the United States because it:

  • Provides a global gateway to world markets for U.S. businesses and consumers;
  • Is a critical pathway for military mobilization;
  • Provides a network for domestic transportation of goods and passengers;
  • Creates jobs that support maritime operations (commercial and recreational);
  • Generates tax/tariff and operating fee revenues for federal, state, and local governments; and
  • Supports recreational use by the public.

The MTS is a network of maritime operations that interface with shore side operations at intermodal connections as part of overall global supply chains or domestic commercial operations. The various maritime operations within the MTS operating network have components that include vessels, port facilities, waterways and waterway infrastructure, intermodal connections, and users.

Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) is the effective understanding of anything associated with the global maritime domain that could impact the United States’ security, safety, economy, or environment. Increased exploration and development of hydrocarbon and wind-based natural resources are projected in the coming years, including in maritime areas that overlap with large marine ecosystems and communities dependent upon living marine resources. Growth of commercial activity in the maritime domain presents new security challenges, especially energy extraction-related growth. Increased and diversified utilization of maritime spaces will likely generate new security challenges and risks, and the potential for increased conflicts among maritime users, stakeholders, and interests.

Research Questions for MSIs Submitting Responses:

  • How can affected agencies evaluate how development of new offshore critical infrastructure (e.g. deepwater ports, communications cables, and seabed activities) alters risk in the maritime domain?
  • What resources (social, biological, mineral, commercial) would be affected by development of the new infrastructure, and how?
  • What technology or policy approaches would improve the resilience of maritime infrastructure?
  • How might future trends to extract resources (e.g., offshore aquaculture, alternative energy, deep seabed mining, and bioprospecting, oils and gas extraction) in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), outer continental shelf (OCS), and the deep seabed pose new risks to the maritime domain?
  • How can we best identify, track, and measure the potential implications, including safety and security implications, and risks of off-shore energy sources such as wind farms?

References for Project Theme and Questions:

The following list of publications is provided as a resource for applicants. While this list is not exhaustive, it does represent key policy documents and reports used in the development of these research questions. Applicants are expected to be aware of the diversity of available studies, policy documents, and findings relevant to this project.

Federal Award Information:

  • Project Period: The Project Period shall be for 12 months. An extension of 12 months to the period of performance may be permitted. DHS will base extension approvals on the availability of funds, acceptable performance, and the reason(s) for the requested extension. DHS will not provide extensions solely to enable universities to expend unspent funds.
  • Projected Funding Amount: Up to $250,000 for a period of 1 year. DHS does not guarantee any total amount of annual or cumulative funding. Funding may be less due to startup delays; however, applicants should submit proposals for the full amount.

Project 2: United States Coast Guard (USCG) – Improving Leeway Drift Data for the USCG Search and Rescue Optimal Planning System (SAROPS)

SAROPS is the software used by the USCG for maritime search planning. SAROPS is a Monte Carlo based simulation that uses thousands of simulated particles generated by user inputs.

SAROPS has the ability to handle multiple scenarios and search object types and accounts for meteorological and oceanographic conditions (e.g. wind speed, currents, wave height, etc).

Searching for a drifting object in the maritime environment requires the determination of search areas. Search and Rescue (SAR) Units receive a recommended search pattern that accounts for the relative motion between the search unit and the drifting object.

Survivors and their craft generally drift downwind due to leeway drift (leeway is the movement of a search object through the water caused by the effects of wind against the exposed surface of the search object). Leeway drift is not always directly downwind but there is significant component of drift perpendicular to the downwind direction. Modeling the leeway characteristics of search objects is imperative to understanding an object’s behavior in the open ocean. This understanding of leeway allows search planners to improve leeway drift estimates, to increase target drift estimation accuracy and increasing the probability of containing the object within the search area.

Leeway drift coefficients have been calculated historically by conducting field experiments where search objects are drifted (with current meters, portable meteorological stations and GPS tracking) under different weather conditions. Due to the time-consuming nature of field experiments, there are less than 100 unique objects in SAROPS that have leeway information, leaving a gap in data as there is an unlimited number of possible search object types and combinations (e.g. life raft with varying number of persons on board).

The USCG is committed to providing detailed information on its approach to SAR. Additionally to ensure academic rigor, the USCG is committed to further providing historic SAR data and leeway information.

This project offers the academic community, a strong opportunity for STEM cross-discipline research and analysis which contribute to the body of knowledge. This study will provide the researchers a platform for investigation into an area that has previously not been the subject of formal inquiry which will be a foundation for publication.

Research Questions for MSIs Submitting Responses:

  • How can the USCG improve its’ estimation of leeway of search objects?
    • What are the most accurate measurement/mathematical techniques/approaches that can be applied for determining actual leeway drift?
    • What mathematical models (Commercial off-the-shelf/Government off-the shelf) are available that can best estimate leeway drift for implementation by the USCG Rescue Coordination Centers (RCC)?
  • How can the USCG validate older leeway measurements (data over 50 years old)?
  • How can the USCG best understand the sensitivity of search success to variances in estimated leeway drift?
  • How does uncertainty in leeway rate or divergence angle change the search area?

References for Project Theme and Questions:

The following list of publications is provided as a resource for applicants. While this list is not exhaustive, it does represent key policy documents and reports used in the development of these research questions. Applicants are expected to be aware of the diversity of available studies, policy documents, and findings relevant to this project.

  • United States Department of Homeland Security, United States Coast Guard Research and Development Center. January 2005. Leeway Divergence
  • United States Department of Homeland Security, United States Coast Guard Research and Development Center, June 2018. Results from the Leeway Field Tests of three Paddle Craft
  • United Sates Coast Guard Addendum to the United States National Search and Rescue Supplement (NSS) to the International Aeronautic and Maritime Search and Rescue Manual (IAMSAR)

Federal Award Information:

  • Project Period: The Project Period shall be for 12 months. An extension of 12 months to the period of performance may be permitted. DHS will base extension approvals on the availability of funds, acceptable performance, and the reason(s) for the requested extension. DHS will not provide extensions solely to enable universities to expend unspent funds.
  • Projected Funding Amount: Up to $500,000 for a period of 1 year. DHS does not guarantee any total amount of annual or cumulative funding. Funding may be less due to startup delays; however, applicants should submit proposals for the full amount.

Project 3: United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) – Utilizing Forecasting Models for Pest or Agriculture Quarantine Smuggling Trends

Animal agriculture hazards include, but are not limited to, foot and mouth disease, avian influenza, and classical swine fever. Plant pests include foreign noxious weeds such as hogweed and insects such as long-horned beetles related to the Asian long-horned beetle that has caused millions of dollars in losses in numerous communities in the United States. Fruit flies, such as the Mediterranean fruit fly, if introduced, would cause significant direct damage to U.S. fruit crops and have major impacts on export markets. CBP seeks innovative uses of the data they collect during port-of-entry inspections to better predict and mitigate pest threats approaching our shores.

Time series data is available (though mock data may need to be used if participants are not vetted) that shows the rate of specific pest interceptions or interdictions of prohibited items; in both cargo and passenger pathways. CBP seeks research that applies data-analytic predictive and forecasting techniques to identify and flag high-risk cargo shipments. Selected institution will conduct research to assess the capability to utilize forecasting models for pest or agriculture quarantine smuggling trends.

Successful research results will strengthen CBP ability to exclude pests, focus resources on the highest risks and safeguard our Nation’s agriculture security and speed commerce. Results will also support targeted inspections, help to zero in on incoming shipments that are likely to present the greatest risk. Not only does this approach keep harmful pests out, but allows for better use of resources. Ultimately the research results should lead to development of tools that allow CBP to achieve higher rates of interception for prohibited and restricted products.

Research Questions for MSIs Submitting Responses:

  • Can price forecasting models (e.g. Box Jenkins method) be used to anticipate seasonal/situational increases (or decreases) in pest or prohibited item encounters?
  • What other techniques can be applied to support CBP resource allocation decisions that will improve current operations, both in terms of increased interceptions while lowering the operating cost to both government and industry?

References for Project Theme and Questions:

The following list of publications is provided as a resource for applicants. While this list is not exhaustive, it does represent key policy documents and reports used in the development of these research questions. Applicants are expected to be aware of the diversity of available studies, policy documents, and findings relevant to this project.

Federal Award Information:

  • Project Period: The Project Period shall be for 12 months. An extension of 12 months to the period of performance may be permitted. DHS will base extension approvals on the availability of funds, acceptable performance, and the reason(s) for the requested extension. DHS will not provide extensions solely to enable universities to expend unspent funds.
  • Projected Funding Amount: Up to $360,000 for a period of 12 months. DHS does not guarantee any total amount of annual or cumulative funding. Funding may be less due to startup delays; however, applicants should submit proposals for the full amount.

For additional questions, please contact us at BusDev@MSRDConsortium.org. Thank you.