Bidding UAS Services to the Department of Interior

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Hi folks! Got an email today and wanted to share with you all.

This is an opportunity to bid to provide UAS services to the Department of Interior.


FYI, the U.S. Department of the Interior's solicitation for Interagency Call-When-Needed Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) services went live on Friday, January 26th (response date: February 26, 2018).  

"The intent of the Government in this solicitation is to award multiple, indefinite delivery – indefinite quantity Call When Needed (CWN) Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) services to support wildland fire operations, search and rescue (SAR), emergency management, and other resource missions."  

This solicitation is aligned with the approach contained in the DOI UAS Integration Strategy (2015-2020), located on the DOI UAS homepage.  

Each aircraft will be fully contractor-operated and maintained. Contractor services include provision of the required UAS, personnel, and all other associated equipment to perform the required services as prescribed in this solicitation. The Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract has one Base Year with Four 1-year Option Periods.

Specific questions regarding this solicitation should be directed to James Marvin at the Interior Business Center, Acquisition Services Directorate at

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There are a lot of discussions on this forum about different opportunities and things that might effect opportunity in this industry.  Connecting the dots might mean the difference between winning a bid like this, maybe help determine how much effort, time and money to participate in this type of opportunity and doing a great job but still go broke. 

I've attached the solicitation for this RFP and as you can see there's a lot to do in order to even be considered for this opportunity and it could cost a lot of time and money to become certified.  You don't show up with a toy drone with your hand out.  I know I have a cynical way of saying things but I think the more realistic about this the better.  This could be a great opportunity and I don't want to discourage anyone but you need to research these things carefully because a lot of what's in these proposals is nuanced, which means you can spend a lot of time trying to comply with the requirements and not get there.  

For example:  

"DOI has obtained approximately $22M worth of sUAS assets from DOD and the Department of Commerce at zero procurement cost for the Department. Had these aircraft not been transferred to DOI they would have been destroyed by DOD." 

Why do you think that is?  Part of it is a result of DoD drones being grossly overpriced and agencies like NOAA, BLM, NPS and the DOI can't afford to upgrade and maintain $300+K Ravens and that are obsolete for military use.  These are old expensive hand-me-downs.  "This partnership will allow DOI to evaluate purpose built, commercially available UAS that are more suitable to the missions of the bureaus."  If you think you can use a Phantom, SOLO, or inspire to carry a $50K hyperspectral sensor to find an invasive plant, you might want to rethink that.  And if you think you can use an M600 or S1000, remember DJI is banned in the military and although technically may not be banned from the DOI I'm not sure anyone in that agency is going to risk their career by using an insecure device for this sort of science.  

So you need to be honest in your assessment of your ability to meet these types of requirements.  We've done several of the missions mentioned in the Integration Strategy, these are very expensive high risk projects that we didn't make a lot of money, they paid a lot but we spent a lot developing a platform that could meet their mission.  But I have to say it was some of the most rewarding work we've done with drones.   

This is cool, commercial drone opportunities are getting real.  All military bases are required to comply with strict environmental laws and drones are great for impact studies and compliance. If anyone lives near a military base, helping the person in charge of those impact studies could be a great place to start.  Just keep in mind that there's a lot of bureaucracy [hurry-up-and-wait]...  



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I know I'm a little late to this discussion, but I'm curious if anyone here is flying anything that actually meets the requirements for this RFP.  Most (ok, all) of my experience is with commercially available multi-rotor rigs. Are there many or any mass produced multi-rotors that would meet this BML/DOI 2 hour continuous flight time requirement?

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