Offer a broad menu of solutions. If you don't have experience providing a wireless solution, for example, find a company that has the expertise to work with you on the job. The wider the variety of solutions you offer, the more lucrative government business will be.
Get help from the supplier. A strong relationship with a supplier/manufacturing company is a great support to help build business with municipalities. A good supplier/manufacturer can help "pull" the business by promoting its solutions and then feeding the opportunities to its best integrators.
Bob Barry is vice president of Integration Sales for RISCO Group USA, with North America offices in Melville, N.Y.
Coming Soon to you - opportunities abound
By Don Erickson
The U.S. federal government is the largest buyer of security equipment in the world. For fiscal year 2011, President Obama has requested $53.7 billion for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and a fair amount of that funding will be used to purchase electronic security devices.
The Obama budget proposal details some of the planned spending:
- $4 billion for state and local programs that support first responders
- $734 million for advanced imaging technology screening machines (full-body scanners) at airports
- $89 million for next-generation BioWatch sensors
- $61 million for radiation detection equipment
- $54 million to modernize transportation security vetting and credentialing
And this is just a sampling. Most of the security equipment spending decisions will be made by the department and its agencies, not dictated by the president. As it has for many years now, the government will look to the electronic physical security industry to provide the leading-edge, high quality equipment it needs to secure federal facilities and the nation's critical infrastructure.
At the 2009 Security Industry Association (SIA) Government Summit, several federal officials explained the procurement process for security equipment and noted how it has evolved in recent years. Tom Cellucci, chief commercialization officer for DHS, for example, talked about a new model of commercialization within the department that leads to public-private partnerships. Rather than maximizing production costs and time by setting strict product specifications that often lead to special orders, the new approach involves working with the private sector in a way that encourages businesses to develop products-at their own cost-that meet the government's (more flexible) needs so that the companies can then take advantage of other market opportunities. "Now we're literally developing products in months that took the federal government years," Cellucci said.
Electronic security companies who do business with the federal government would do well to learn more about this new procurement model as they seek contracts. Approaches that were successful just a few years ago might not get the same results today. In the first few years after 9/11, money may have been no object when it came to security matters, but it definitely is an object now, and the government is looking for efficiency as well as effectiveness.
Austin Smith, executive director of the Interagency Security Committee (ISC), meanwhile, discussed changes in the federal government's approach to securing federal facilities. After the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, he said, one of the first questions President Clinton and other officials asked was, how are federal buildings protected? Since then, the ISC, which brings together chief security officers and other executives from 42 federal agencies and departments, has been formed and countless security guidelines have been issued. More than a million federal facilities cannot all meet one set of rules, however, and no process is in place to measure the extent to which they are heeding them. As a result, Smith said, "fourteen years later, we still don't know" how each building is protected. The new model, he said, involves "acceptance of risk," with officials at each building reporting on the security measures they have implemented, the outstanding risks that cannot be addressed by the guidelines and the manner in which they are dealing with those risks.