After the initial shock of Sept. 11 passed and the government began taking steps to tighten up the country’s security, it looked like the security industry and its participants might receive a significant boost in sales. Although slower in coming than anticipated, funds allocated for homeland security are beginning to flow into the industry. The good news is that the federal dollars should stimulate sales and cultivate market growth.

My concern and that of many of my colleagues is this: Who is actually receiving these procurement opportunities and why? For example, large amounts of money are being given as grants to universities for research into testing and technology. Many of these needs can be met by our mature industry of quality suppliers, integrators and end users already experienced in the development and support of these technologies. Another concern with this approach is the time involved. Why spend valuable time researching and developing technologies that are already available?

Using new technology is like driving a train while trying to lay tracks.

When you combine over zealous technology developers with untested technologies and vague promises of return on investment, you get a recipe for disappointment and in many cases even failure. Some of the many tests, trials, and technologies may prove to be acceptable, but I think a higher percentage will be looked back upon as more examples of the “fleecing of America.”

Today’s most productive integrators and manufacturers know successful homeland protection is not just about break-through technology. A large part of the equation is technology cloaked with layers of support, experience in implementation, and ongoing service.

What I would like to see is a panel of successful security end-users, who would help guide government agencies in evaluating security vendors. Because they are experienced systems buyers, they know first hand that technology without the support of locally trained systems integrators (or as I affectionately call them “our industry's magicians”) and committed manufacturers has no long-term value.

How will our industry get contracts and give taxpayers value? Get listed on Federal and GSA schedules, obtain certifications, approvals and clearances; plus investigate small business programs and local government projects. You know the old saying “it is not what you know, but who you know.” Get to know the government suppliers who already have a proven track with the Feds. Since Sept. 11 they have received the lion’s share of military contracts. Everybody wins if you (integrators and suppliers) get to know companies like Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin, who all have millions of dollars in contracts for Homeland Security already. With your help they can provide the government and taxpayers with real value and solutions, not just technology.