DHS releases draft BioWatch RFP

Tools

A long-delayed draft request for proposals for fully autonomous networked biodetection capability – known as BioWatch Gen-3 – released Jan. 25 calls for sensors optimized to detect two threat agents –  one spore former and one vegetative cell – and one biological simulant.

The draft proposes a two-stage acquisition, with each stage a full and open competition. Stage 1 would be for the performance testing of systems – with DHS anticipating the award of multiple contracts – while Stage 2 would be for deployment, with one contract awarded.

Today's BioWatch sensors can only collect air samples in filters that must be manually removed and sent to a laboratory for analysis.

BioWatch has come under increasing criticism, with a Los Angeles Times investigation stating that BioWatch sensors currently deployed "cannot be counted on to detect a real attack," citing for that assertion confidential government test results and computer modeling. The current sensors are also prone to false alarms, the LA Times states.

Alexander Garza, the Homeland Security Department's assistant secretary for health affairs, told a Sept. 13 House panel that the DHS had yet to encounter an instance where a BioWatch Actionable Result, or BAR, was a false positive. But, he said that positive test results have sometimes occurred for close relatives of targeted organisms, which the BioWatch technology alone can't always differentiate from dangerous organisms.

For more:
- go to the BioWatch 3 draft RFP on FBO

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