Alot is changing in the federal government security market. If you are not already a player in this space, you’d better do a lot of homework before you dive in. However, there are good opportunities for qualified players to make a living in this changing field.
“The access control business, as we know it, will be history in the next three years,” said Jorge G. Lozano, president and chief executive officer of Condortech Services (CTS), Springfield, Va. “I see more consolidation because of cloud computing and software as a service,” Lozano continued.
Condortech promotes itself as the “best ally against crime and terrorism.” It was started in 1988 by three partners with a background in access control and databases who saw a chance to serve a market. Lozano purchased the market area and continued to grow the business.
“After 9/11, we dedicated ourselves to the Federal market and understanding the needs and problems of the government,” Lozano said.
“The future is written on the wall for our industry,” Lozano continued. “People demand information. When you are using access control to protect a facility, an infrastructure or a border, you have to send lots and lots of data to the command center.”
Today, he sees threats from three areas: traditional terrorism or criminal activity, cyber-terrorism and narco-terrorism. Of the three, he fears the latter most. Narco-terrorists simply have no boundaries to what they will do (see related story on page 52).
He said it is critical to be able to protect cameras and access control systems from cyber attacks. “Somebody can remove the reader and you are stuck,” he noted. “Those are the kinds of challenges we need to consider.”
“You also have to understand interoperability. The government wants everyone to work together since they’ve invested so much money in the infrastructure already,” Lozano said.
Working into government forays
Michael and Nancy Rogers spent many years scoping out the government sector before Securityhunter Inc. got its first big break. They decided to ‘shoot the moon’ and it worked.
“Doing project work is like hunting for squirrel. You eat one day but are hungry the next,” said Michael S. Rogers, PSP, CPP, and chief executive officer of Securityhunter, Baltimore, Md. Securityhunter was the #1 ranked systems integrator in SD&I’s Fast50 program chronicling America’s Fastest Growing Systems Integrators http://www.securityinfowatch.com/article/10635998/.
In Washington, a typical small security firm bids on a small business set-aside. If they win, they get a little project. Next month, they need another. And so it goes. Not for Securityhunter.
“We won a GSA schedule with a Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA),” Rogers said. While they lost their competitive advantage against the big guys—under a BPA there are no nods to size—they gained a $500 million purchase award. That does not mean they got a $500 million contract. Rather, it means they have access to compete on $500 million in jobs.
The next step with a BPA is two-part, just like launching a rocket. One agency must have money in its budget to spend. A contract person must approve the spending. Both people have to “turn the key” before the job launches. That happened many times for Securityhunter at sites from the Pentagon to the FAA to USDA.
However you get the business, winning the job is not the only thing that needs to be done. One must have the deliverables. Lozano rues the fact that the security industry did not get deeply involved in the data transmission standards discussion. “This allowed other players, with great IT solutions, to come in, but they did not have the understanding, like we do, of physical security,like protecting a perimeter,” he said.
An IT company does not understand where the electronic fences need to be positioned. Transfer of data, audio and video to command centers needs to be instant across a variety of companies’ products. CTS has made a good living out of capturing such data instantly and transferring it immediately to the first responders.