Grabbing Government Work

Learn the nuances of getting business from the federal government


Knowing integration is a good thing

“It’s not just a door you are securing. You need to consider how that door is integrated to the entire area,” Lozano said.

That experience and vision came only with time both for Lozano and for Rogers. Both have worked in the federal space for several years and worked hard at it. Their efforts have been rewarded as their companies made serious headway into the market space.

Early on in the federal sector, the major players like ADT and Wells Fargo did a great job of providing access control. However, in 2004 President Bush sent down a mandate outlining the technical requirements that NIST soon would codify.

GSA and the Department of Defense led a call for a common access card (CAC) and smart card for security. Those cards emerged from the mandate. “There was a mandate for certificates and transmission of data for the cards,” Lozano said. Whatever the brand name of the product, the government demanded it work quickly and accurately.

“A major challenge we have as an industry is how we are going to protect those control units from cyber attacks,” Lozano stated.

Homeland security demands that systems be more interoperable and talk to one another, Lozano noted. Ability to provide that kind of service is a make-or-break for integrators and security centers.

“You have to be able to send lots of data to those command centers. Some of today’s devices do not send data fast enough,” Lozano stated.

The up-time needs to be 99.999 percent with full redundancy—not 99 percent, Lozano said. That is a huge difference. And it applies whether you are the Virginia Transportation Department using cameras to locate people and problems on the highways or an agency protecting a government installation.

Energy efficiency is mandated. Controllers have to be energy efficient. Data centers have to offer full disaster recovery. CTS’s D.C.-area data center is backed up in Washington State.

Nothing is too tough for an enterprising integrator. However, Lozano said that succeeding in the federal market space will be a tough row for a newcomer to hoe.

“My frank opinion is that it is too late for someone to get into the government security business,” Lozano said. “I saw a rush of security companies after 9/11 and I’ve seen most of them go out of business.”

There are plenty of incentives for small businesses, women, minorities and military. “If you understand the market, and you have the technology, there are a lot of holes you can fill. There is a niche there.”

“For someone in integration, it’s going to be tough,” Lozano continued. He said it will be difficult to learn enough fast enough and survive the infighting caused by budget cuts. He has seen a lot of defense contractors coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan who now compete with security firms.

Rogers would put it differently. “It’s open to everybody. But it takes a long time to get established,” he said. “To be a chess master takes 10 years. Most guys quit after two or three years. It took me 10 years in the federal space to know what I am doing.”

He compares gaining a toehold in the federal sector to doing a jigsaw puzzle without having the picture. “It sounds simple,” he said, “but there is nothing simple about it.”


Getting started successfully?

Do the due diligence and upfront work with fervor. “It is a great challenge. For those who are new, be aware that the economy is tough. You have to think before you open a new business. There are many challenges. It is not a lost cause. You have to know the market and the demands of the technology like fast video and fast audio,” Lozano continued. Rapid deployment is critical, he added.

“There is a lot more that needs to be done if you understand the technology,” Lozano said. Know standards like 800-116 for physical access control systems.

“Learn the industry well. It is not enough to understand security. You have to know the genesis of security in order to perform well in this industry,” Lozano advised.