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[infowar.de] High-Tech-Firmen stellen sich auf Antiterror-Aufträge ein
May 13, 2002
High-tech firms adjusting to the post-Sept. 11 world
By Bara Vaida, National Journal's Technology Daily
High-tech companies have shifted their focus toward homeland security
and government contracts, as they adjust to a new environment after the
Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Dozens of small information technology firms have hired lobbying
companies in Washington to help them obtain contracts with government
agencies, while larger firms either have developed new security products
or rushed to make appointments with the White House Offices of Homeland
Security and Cybersecurity to tout their products.
"Homeland security solutions are probably the hottest thing that is
going on in the IT market right now," said Booth Jameson, director of
global government affairs at EDS, which has partnered with Sun
Microsystems, Oracle and the PwC Consulting branch of
PricewaterhouseCoopers to create a transportation-security product that
it plans to pitch to the Transportation Department.
The Bush administration has proposed $38 billion in fiscal 2003 for
homeland security, and a portion of that is certain to be allocated to
Apart from homeland security, agencies currently spend $45 billion a
year on technology products and services, and the administration has
asked Congress for $52 billion. That spending will focus on three
concerns of President Bush: combating terrorism, increasing homeland
security and revitalizing the economy.
"I think there has been a significant shift [in high-tech] when it comes
to security, intelligence and knowledge management," said Phil Bond,
Commerce Department undersecretary for the agency's technology
administration and a former lobbyist for Hewlett-Packard. "The
technology community has real expertise that it can provide to the
government ... and they see government as a growing market."
Bond, however, has been cautioning companies that seek appointments with
the Office of Homeland Security not to expect much, as the office does
not handle procurement. Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge is acting
strictly as an adviser to Bush and is interested in talking to IT
companies-but cannot tell agencies what products to buy, Bond noted.
"The Homeland Security Office is overwhelmed" with technology solutions,
In recognition of the breadth of technology solutions that deserve to be
considered, Bond said the Commerce Department is considering holding a
series of demonstration events in Washington and elsewhere to help ease
the burden on Ridge's office.
He noted that not only can many technology products increase security,
but they also can increase agency productivity.
Meanwhile, those who follow the government-contracting business advise
that high-tech companies should unite if they want to get a piece of the
government IT budget pie. One of the ways to do that is to join an
association such as the Northern Virginia Technology Council, whose
members include government contractors like EDS and Lockheed Martin.
The Northern Virginia Technology Council has helped small companies such
as the Dulles, Va.-based data-security firm Server Vault connect with
the large government contracting firms to build business.
Another association, the Information Technology Association of America,
organized a meeting for some of its members with Transportation
Secretary Norman Mineta, and is advising various agencies on how to sort
through technology solutions.
"We were asked by multiple agencies to help them sort out some of the
clutter and help them bring partners to the table to focus on solutions,
rather than on particular products and approaches," ITAA President
Harris Miller said.
Yet another means for companies to make inroads into the government
market is to hire lobbying firms. Sonic Foundry, a small Madison,
Wis.-based firm that makes identification systems, hired the lobbying
firm Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin & Kahn to help boost its profile on
Or a company can expand its staff and create a new product from its
existing line, as did the San Mateo, Calif.-based software firm Siebel
After Sept. 11, the firm, which already had a few government contracts,
created a new information-sharing product aimed at boosting the
abilities of the FBI and CIA to analyze information. The company made a
splash with an advertising blitz in the Washington area for its new
Jameson said another note of caution for high-tech firms is that the
homeland-security procurement process is occurring more slowly than many
For example, the administration has taken seven months to analyze the
proposed GovNet project-and while the government-wide intranet has been
tapped to receive $5 million in initial funding, it is unclear whether
it would be a large-scale contract.
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