Who's tougher on terrorism?
- By Steve LeSueur
- Jan 08, 2004
Democratic presidential contenders vie to outspend Bush on homeland security
Democratic presidential candidates Howard Dean, Richard Gephardt and Joseph Lieberman lead the way in trying to beat President Bush at his own anti-terrorism game.
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Democratic presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman wants to increase homeland security spending by $16 billion over the Bush administration's plans. Among his proposals, the Connecticut senator said he would create an intelligence-sharing system to provide state and local police departments with instant access to the 58 federal terrorist watch lists.
Rep. Richard Gephardt, D-Mo., is calling for a $20 billion increase in homeland security spending, saying he would use the additional money to modernize law enforcement agencies and purchase the latest technologies.
Other Democratic contenders also want to boost spending on homeland security technologies and systems. Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean has pledged to close the "homeland security gap" by improving coordination of intelligence information among federal, state and local agencies, and by increasing federal support for first responders.
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., wants to improve emergency 911 systems and create more regional alert systems. Retired Gen. Wesley Clark said he will bolster high-tech efforts to counter biological and chemical threats.
As the Democratic candidates stake out homeland security and information sharing as areas in which they intend to outspend President Bush, one thing becomes clear: The 2004 election isn't likely to cause major shifts in IT spending priorities, especially in areas that touch national security.
"Democrats, like Republicans, have realized that the world has become a risky place, and they know there are many requirements in defense and intelligence and homeland security that just have to get done," said Joseph Kampf, president and chief executive officer at Anteon International Corp. in Fairfax, Va.
Homeland security spending isn't the only issue on the minds of IT executives and government officials. The battle continues on Capitol Hill over outsourcing and the administration's goals to compete more government jobs with the private sector. Small-business issues also are grabbing mind share, in both the debate over contract bundling and regulations defining a small business. (See story, page 16)
For some companies, the new year brings a chance to refurbish their images. The Boeing Co., Computer Sciences Corp. and Electronic Data Systems Corp. each ended 2003 on sour notes, and many companies are watching their efforts to bounce back.
In the state and local market, contractors expect business to pick up in areas such as enterprise resource planning and financial management, where governments can save money and generate new revenue. But no one expects a return to the halcyon days before the dot-com crash.
The new year also will see the maturing of familiar technologies, such as smart cards, Web services and voice over Internet protocol, leading to more widespread government adoption of applications and systems using these technologies.
Overall, federal spending on information technology will likely increase by about 7.5 percent, from $56.3 billion in fiscal 2004 to $62.8 billion in 2005, according to market research firm Input Inc. of Reston, Va.
Contractors have been disappointed by the slow development of new programs related to homeland security. For many, funding for new technologies and systems has not matched the Bush administration's rhetoric. But DHS is set to begin two major procurements -- U.S. Visit and Spirit -- that could ring the starting bell for what contractors still regard as a promising market.
DHS in November released a request for proposal for the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology program, estimated to be worth between $7 billion and more than $20 billion over 10 years. This effort will build on the U.S. Visit system begun by DHS to monitor foreign nationals as they enter and exit the country.
The RFP for Spirit is expected this month. Under this multiple-award program, valued at $10 billion over 10 years, contractors will provide DHS with a broad range of IT services. Winning a spot on Spirit is crucial to contractors that want to do business with DHS, because the department's directorates and offices likely will use Spirit contractors to build their internal systems and networks.
"Spirit will be the vehicle of choice for DHS for procuring IT services," said Renny DiPentima, president and chief operating officer at SRA International Inc. in Fairfax, Va.
Defense spending is equally promising for the coming year. Big on the radar screen for Lockheed Martin is the Lead System Integrator program for the Air Force Air and Space Operations Center, said Arthur Johnson, senior vice president of strategic development for the Bethesda, Md., company.
The effort to integrate and support the center's weapons system is potentially worth $500 million, Johnson said. The Air Force, which has not yet released an RFP, expects to make an award before the end of the year, according to Input.
Industry executives also are following closely events in Afghanistan, Iraq and other troubled countries for opportunities. Despite the risks, many companies have people on the ground in the Middle East and are supporting the military and reconstruction efforts, helping to build networks, communications and other information systems.
"There are many countries with infrastructure issues," said James Payne, senior vice president and head of the government services division for Qwest Communications International Inc. in Denver.
Industry executives agreed that security and defense will remain priorities among Republicans and Democrats in the coming year.
"Homeland security has the clearest and strongest bipartisan support," said Mark Heilman, Anteon executive vice president of corporate development. "If anything, the Democrats are saying we're not doing enough."
Editor Steve LeSueur can be reached at email@example.com.