CIBER a growing force in government market

Recent win with Georgia Ports Authority more validation of IT-based focus
Tuesday, March 2, 2010

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo.—“We are a very well kept secret in the security integration space,” said Erin Phelps, director, enterprise security solutions at CIBER, a $1 billion company that bills itself as a “pure-play international IT outsourcing and software implementation and integration consultancy.”

Phelps’ statement will be less and less true if he keeps landing contracts like the one announced in February with Georgia Ports Authority, for whom CIBER will be providing video surveillance, wireless communications, TWIC-compliant access control, and a command and control solution. The GPA’s deepwater ports and inland barge terminals support companies generating some $15 billion in revenue each year.

Having built its security operations within its Federal division shortly after 9/11, like more than one government-focused contractor, CIBER initially has specialized in ports, building on an existing relationship with the Coast Guard. Initial wins included work in the Gulf of Mexico at the Port of Lake Charles and Port Freeport, “and we do have now a pretty good-sized practice in the company,” said Phelps.

“What differentiates us from our competition,” he said, “is that we are first and foremost an IT integrator, meaning we have software development teams, groups that understand how to code, how to develop and actually integrate systems. We work with SDKs and APIs and we have people in house here that do that. A lot of folks run around saying they’re an integrator, but if you ask them what they really integrate, they say they give you a complete solution of access, intrusion, and CCTV, but the manufacturer has already done all the integration. That’s not what we do. We work with a client to understand the entire operation, security and the business.”

For example, he said, “with ports we monitor their waterways, with conflict notifications for activity in and around the channel. That might impact security, but it’s also about general operations.”

The company has a proprietary command and control solution it calls CIBER Secure, which not only brings together all of the systems within a port, but also brings in the systems of multiple other stakeholders in the region. This way, said Phelps, “you’re not isolated to what’s happening in your specific boundaries. You can share and alert outside of your boundaries, based on rules and policy, with other agencies. There’s no question that’s where the industry is going.”

Phelps said it’s not uncommon to be in conversations with multiple agencies sitting in the same room together saying they all want access to each other’s access control and video systems. They worry, he said, they’ll be unaware of important information happening “right outside their gates.”

And while this might be a worry of private entities in the commercial world as well, Phelps doesn’t see CIBER going outside of the government and critical infrastructure space. “If it’s just a national account for Sears or Home Depot, that’s not our business,” he said.