The bidders are Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and wireless-equipment provider Ericsson.
Two years ago, another big corporation, Accenture, won potentially the largest contract in the Department of Homeland Security's short history. Accenture plans to use biometrics and other technology to process foreign visitors as they enter the country. The contract could run as long as 10 years and generate up to $10 billion for the company.
Accenture so far has received $185 million in revenue from the deal, says Jim Stolarski, Accenture's executive director of homeland security. He said the company will receive far less than the maximum.
Accenture, which had no employees dedicated to homeland security prior to the 2001 terrorist attacks, now has 20 senior executives and about 600 workers working for Stolarski.
"DHS is one of our largest and most important clients," says Stolarski, whose company reported revenue of $15.5 billion last year.
The opportunities continue to open, too, for ICx MesoSystems, the small Albuquerque company.
It's now marketing another air-sampling device for office buildings, a venture that "wouldn't be a possibility without an event like 9/11," CEO Call says.
But it's been rocky at times for Call's company. Sales spiked after 9/11 but then fell when a Defense Department official became concerned about false alarms from various companies' bioterrorism devices. Officials temporarily put a hold on purchases of all such equipment, Call says.
The CEO says he's now optimistic about sales growth, but "it always takes longer than you'd hope to introduce a new technology."
Contracts often go to big companies
After the Sept. 11 attacks, the government was in a "panicky phase" of procurement, says David Silverberg, editor of HSToday, a homeland security trade magazine. The country "had to do everything instantly, because many thought we were going to be nuked off the face of the Earth." As a result, he says, the homeland security industry "has grown at an extremely fast and disorganized pace."
But more recently, spending is being shaped by both successes and failures in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. This year, for example, has seen introduction of a second generation of anti-terrorism products, including walk-through baggage-screening portals at airports, and devices that can detect nuclear and biological threats.
Consultant Doug Laird, who worked for the U.S. Secret Service and was Northwest Airlines' security director, criticizes the Department of Homeland Security for awarding so many contracts to large corporations.
In general, he says, the contractors oversell the security value of their goods and services. Further, he says, the government exercises inadequate oversight.
"The DHS has pretty much given them an open check to supply products and services," he says.
Often, the large corporations "have no idea about" the work that needs to be done, Laird says. "In my opinion, it's a total rip-off."
The department's chief procurement officer, Elaine Duke, says the agency awards contracts based on "best value," and also makes sure that contractors or their subcontractors have the technical expertise required.
In June, the department selected 25 large companies to provide information technology under a contract worth about $45 billion over seven years. Small companies will also get some of the work.
During the fiscal year ending this month, small companies have been awarded direct contracts that represent 33% of all contract dollars spent by the department.
That surpasses a U.S. Small Business Administration goal of each federal agency awarding at least 23% of its contracts to small businesses, she says.
In addition, Duke says, the department requires large companies in "virtually every contract" to subcontract to small businesses 40% of the contract's value.
Bryan Ware, CEO of Virginia-based Digital Sandbox, a small business that does risk-assessment work for the department, doesn't agree that small businesses are being shut out, but he's aware that large corporations are benefiting the most.
LOS ANGELES , Feb. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Business Matchmaking, highly regarded as one of the most successful public-private initiatives, will provide Dallas-Ft. Worth area small businesses with...
Four major airports in the New York City area have hired Raytheon Inc. for more than $100 million to put together an anti-terrorist surveillance system that would monitor the airports' perimeters.
Kelly Aviation Center Montreal, a Lockheed Martin Canada division, announced it has signed its first six contracts to perform aircraft engine maintenance for airlines, charter airlines, aircraft...
Conference Report Refocusing on Capacity FAA, industry reps project out to 2015 Jodi Richards May 2004 WASHINGTON, D.C. — At the 29th Annual Federal Aviation...