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R&D: Secure Hybrid Composite Containers

Virginia, United States
Government : Homeland Security
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SOURCES SOUGHT ONLY: On behalf of the Department of Homeland Security, Science & Technology Directorate (DHS S&T), the Department of the Interior, Interior Business Center, Acquisition Services Directorate (DOI-IBC-AQD) is conducting market research to determine if sources capable of satisfying the agency's requirements exist. DHS S&T is seeking to conduct research and development on alternate composite material that is survivable and low cost for Secure Hybrid Composite Containers. See "Project Information" below for more detailed information about the acquisition.

Research and Development is anticipated to occur over a two (2) year period. The anticipated North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code is 541715 "Research and Development in the Physical, Engineering, and Life Sciences (except Nanotechnology and Biotechnology" with a size standard of 1,000 employees.

The purpose of this Sources Sought Notice is to obtain an indication of interest of all businesses, determine any interest from the small business community, and obtain voluntary limited capability information of those interested sources. This is not a Request for Proposals, but instead a market research method to determine interested sources prior to potentially issuing a solicitation. The Government will use responses to this sources sought to make an appropriate acquisition decision about soliciting this project. The Government will not award a contract based on this Sources Sought Notice. The Government is not committed nor obligated to pay for the information provided, and no basis for claims against the Government shall arise as a result of a response to these Sources Sought. Information provided is strictly voluntary.

This IS NOT a request for technical/management proposals.


Program Background:

Starting in 2003 the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Advanced Research Projects Agency (HSARPA) funded the University of Maine (UMaine) to develop a Secure Hybrid Composite Container (SHCC). This work was performed to support CBPs mission to safeguard America's borders while enhancing the Nation's global economic competitiveness by enabling legitimate trade. The developed ISO-certified shipping container provided door opening alerts and six-sided intrusion detection, while meeting all the operational, structural, and customs requirements of standard steel 20ft and 40ft shipping containers. The security system, developed by Georgia Technical Research Institute (GTRI), is activated at the point of stuffing and is not deactivated until reaching its destination. The security system is designed to confirm the integrity of the container and report breaches to the cognizant authorities.

The DHS S&T investment at UMaine resulted in a container design that received ISO certification in 2013. The SHCC can be used to address CBPs mission in two focus areas: 1) National security and 2) Cargo theft.

•    National security: The US is very concerned with the risk of terrorist attack via weapons of mass destruction being smuggled into major US shipping ports. Two legislative actions have been enacted: The Security and Accountability For Every Port Act of 2006 (or SAFE Port Act, Pub. L. 109-347) which calls for 100% inspection of shipping containers and the 911 Commission Act of 2007 (911 Act), that authorizes the establishment by regulation minimum standards and procedures for securing containers in transit to the United States.
•    Cargo theft: Because of the SHCC's ability to monitor intrusion and report status and location, it can help reduce cargo theft and support recovery operations in the commercial shipping environment. It's estimated that cargo theft costs industry between $25 and $30B annually.

The manufacturing technology currently utilized uses thermosetting composites with an imbedded security system in the container panels to support intrusion detection and reporting. However, the cost of this technology is economically and technically challenging.


While successfully validating the composite container design this process is costly and is difficult to support in an automated, cost effective production environment. The Government requests Vendor capability information for the development of a next generation design of the SHCC which is easier to manufacture, recyclable, provides improved security, and is more durable with a longer service life.

The container design must meet all the operational, structural, and customs requirements of standard steel 20ft and 40ft shipping containers (ISO-certification).

The container produced must be manufactured so that externally it looks the same as a current steel container.

The Vendor must identify, demonstrate, and have the capability to test alternative composite materials for use in the manufacture of the SHCC with the goal of optimizing the producibility of the container system with improved security functionality.

The container must support the following security functionality. The Vendor shall supply the success and false alarm rates and probabilities.
•    The container must detect an intrusion (breach) of 1 inch or greater diameter through the walls, floor, door or ceiling;
•    The container must detect a door opening of 1 second or greater duration;
•    The container must identify a door opening of 2 inches or greater as a door open event; and
•    A door open or intrusion event must be wirelessly reported to a designated cognizant authority

Container design and production must be cost and weight competitive with a steel container over its lifecycle.

This work will be used to support the production of ISO certified dry-freight containers with six-sided intrusion detection/tracking/reporting which will operate efficiently and effectively in the global supply chain.


1. Name of firm with address, duns number, cage code, phone, e-mail address, and point of contact.

2. Socioeconomic Status: state if your firm is a Small Business, Small Business Administration (SBA) certified 8(a), Small Disadvantaged Business, HUBZone, Veteran Owned Small Business (VOSB), Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), or Women Owned Small Business (WOSB) firms relative to the specified NAICS codes.

3. Voluntary responses to this sources sough shall provide a brief Statement of Capability (no more than 10 pages), which demonstrates the ability to meet the Government's requirements.

Please submit capability statements electrically via email to the Contracting Officer, Nina Leshock; Acceptable formats for submission are Microsoft Word or Portable Document Format (PDF). No requests for capability briefings will be honored as a result of this sources sought notice. Information provided will not be used as a part of any subsequent solicitation requirement. Interested sources who submit data are responsible for appropriately marking information if it is proprietary in nature. All information received that is marked Proprietary will be handled accordingly. Please be advised that all submissions become Government property and will not be returned. Capability statements are due no later than 2:00 PM ET on Day, 24 September 2019.

Questions may be submitted via email to

Primary Point of Contact:
Nina Leshock
Contracting Officer

Secondary Point of Contact:
Kevin Woody
Contracting Officer

Nina Leshock, Contracting Officer, Email - Kevin Woody, Contracting Officer, Phone (703) 964-3568, Email

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