Get Government Gigs!

Seasoned integrators weigh in on how to land that elusive federal contract


 

Understanding Government Needs

“The biggest change in the market over the last 10 years is the increased focus on enhancing the physical security presence at facilities,” Jernigan says. Another significant issue is the quick pace of technology change: “This has often caused some confusion as government entities consider new technology,” Jernigan adds.

The use of access control and video surveillance has taken on a prominent role at government facilities. “These also happen to be the two technologies that have gone through the greatest technological enhancements,” Jernigan says. “This allows our customers to gain a broader security presence while analyzing behaviors and potentially predicting outcomes.

“We have also noticed that the government is beginning to implement policies and protocols for protecting infrastructure critical to security,” Jernigan continues. “Some of these policies drive the new technology that we see.”

Rogers says he went into the marketplace to help secure the nation. “It’s a life mission for me,” he says. He was fortunate to get started before 9/11, after which the space became very crowded. He targeted military opportunities in the 1990s — a time when a lot of security integrators shied away from government work because the Feds had a reputation of slow pay.

“In the wake of Sept. 11 and other terrorist attacks, we have seen increased spending on security across government agencies to protect assets and critical infrastructure,” Cotter says. “But with recent budgetary challenges, we also have seen an increase in procurement cycle times,” Cotter says.

 

Repeat Business

Finding government work is a lot like being a fishing boat captain, Rogers says. If a captain finds a hot spot, a lot of other boats will flock around. “You have to keep moving,” he says.

There are ways to build RMR — most commonly through maintenance/service agreements and by offering monitoring services, Jernigan explains, noting that maintenance/service agreements require a strong technical competency of various systems and technology. ”There are not many integrators that have this type of expertise, particularly as technology is changing at such a rapid rate,” Jernigan says.

Doing scheduled preventative maintenance checks puts them in a position to recommend system upgrades as the agency’s security partner. “Monitoring intrusion, fire, and video is another critical RMR model,” Jernigan says.

Still, “there is not a lot of RMR in this sector,” Rogers says. While his firm has a few ongoing maintenance contracts for the Army, they are staffing contracts (known inside the Beltway as “butts in seats” jobs), wherein the integrator provides maintenance rather than monitoring services. Recurring accounts like this mainly fall to giant contractors like General Dynamics who make their money from the recurring staffing jobs in all areas of the federal domain.

Kratos’ Cotter says many government contracts include both installation and follow-on service as required, often awarded as-needed on a task order basis over a three- to five-year period. One of the most exciting trends Cotter sees is the continued convergence of physical and cyber security. “As a company with both a strong physical security presence as well as cyber and network security capabilities, we are excited about the market transition,” Cotter says.

“Building a successful track record is critical toward gaining credibility within the government space,” Jernigan says. “We utilize multiple lead-generating resources which help us identify projects that are a good fit for G4S, including referrals from satisfied customers or partners.”

 

Curt Harler is a technology writer and regular contributor to SD&I magazine. Reach him at curt@curtharler.com.