Bidding any type of government job can be wrought with bureaucratic red tape. You have to know how to work a request for proposal and meet local, state and even national requirements that run the gamut from safety, security and compliance regulations to codes and standards. If you're working for the Department of Homeland Security, you have to know regulations and equipment on the GSA schedule. Depending on the type of system you're installing, knowledge of NIST/FISMA C&A (FIPS) and TWIC as well as countless other compliance and regulatory agency mandates are a huge plus. Some integrators have a designated person to handle the government vertical market, which requires much more hand-holding and follow-up then perhaps other verticals, but the rewards will pay off in the form of repeat business and upgrades, as well as referrals from the tightly held government and municipality community. In other words, if you know your work and how to satisfy these folks, you can become their go-to security reseller.
Within the overall government vertical market there are many different types of customers-local towns, cities and municipalities and other offshoots you may not have considered, including courthouses, city halls, state offices, credit unions, police departments, emergency call centers and others. Integrators are finding success not only with the more visible high-profile federal government entities, but some of these smaller and more local and regional players as well.
Many integrators have piped in that because security is often the last parcel of a project (last in/last out), it can be months, even longer, before the job kicks in. That means you have to have other work on the books to sustain the company over the long haul and keep bidding government jobs on an ongoing basis so the work will establish its own regular schedule from project to project.
Local governments want to be convinced that a solution will work for them and that it will equal cost and manpower savings. For example, video surveillance systems should be up and running in beta formats so potential customers can see what's going on and the integrator is not just talking about what might be. 'Show me' is the way to convince these customers. In addition, as in most vertical markets, the security reseller is now working directly with the IT staff, which is a win-win for all, as these folks know the ins and outs of the networks and existing surveillance and also, what the government may be looking for overall.
Lorie Stephenson, president of Camtek Inc. in Spokane, Wash., has some 17 years in the sales, design, system integration and project supervision of access control, security, fire alarm and video surveillance systems. The company holds numerous electrical, general contractor and low-voltage licenses and has an impressive client list that includes the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife;
Washington State Fish and Wildlife Headquarters; Department of Health and Social Services; and other government clients. Stephenson said that these customers are looking for integrated video and access control systems that interconnect on the network-allowing for efficiencies and cost savings across the board. "Anything that leverages the network is what the government customers are looking for," she said. "We're working directly with the IT departments and often times the customer wants to make sure the equipment will meet their requirements. For example, some may need a system certified to run on the government network for the DOD." Stephenson's team asks the potential customer what their needs are as far as certifications and meeting equipment regulations, and then the company goes about getting these users what they want and generally it's already part of their portfolio.
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