Gov. Watch

Friday, August 1, 2008

Bill that increases ‘bottom line for security integrators’ to become law
A bill that’s being heralded as a way for security integrators and manufacturers to greatly increase business with state and local governments was signed into law in June.

Called The Local Preparedness Acquisition Act, the bill extends cooperative purchasing to GSA Schedule 84. This means that state and local governments can purchase fire alarm systems, access control devices, perimeter security, video surveillance systems and other homeland security goods and services at GSA-approved prices.

“This bill will allow us to expand our markets,” said Rob Hile, vice president of business development for integrator Adesta. Until recently, Hile was chairman of the Security Industry Association’s government relations committee; he now serves as SIA’s treasurer. “Previously, we’ve been able to pursue federal government opportunities using the GSA, now we can go to state and local governments.”

Interested integrators who do not have a GSA schedule need to get that process underway, advised Hile. There are lots of consultants who can take care of the paperwork for integrators, but Hile said he’s gone through the process twice without using a consultant and “it’s not that difficult.”

For integrators who already have a GSA schedule, “it will be like the addition of a new vertical, there will be some learning curve to understand the needs of local and state governments,” Hile said.

The GSA is expected to issue a rule, which essentially will outline the process for state and local governments to use the GSA schedule, by the end of the summer, said Don Erickson, director of government relations for SIA. “Savvy integrators will want to start talking to their customers to increase awareness of this program … [they’ll want to] start talking to state and local governments and saying, ‘Hey there’s this new program coming out.’”

The passage of this legislation is a milestone for SIA. SIA has had other bills passed, but this is the first standalone bill, authored by SIA, that’s passed both chambers of Congress. It also demonstrates the “value of SIA to the industry,” said Hile. This trade association is “adding value to our bottom line,” he said.

NBFAA gov’t relations talk business in Nashville

How security installers can take advantage of existing government business opportunities was a recurring point of discussion at the NBFAA Government Relations Committee meeting at the ESX conference in Nashville on June 25.

Referring to the “The Local Preparedness Acquisition Act,” NBFAA executive director Merlin Guilbeau asked about ways to ensure that members who haven’t worked with the federal government’s GSA schedule previously can get up to speed so they can expand their work with local and state governments. NBFAA lobbyist John Chwat is going to set up a meeting with the GSA and committee members to discuss the possibility of setting up “specific GSA training for NBFAA members.”

Chwat is also in the early stages of crafting and looking for a sponsor for a bill tentatively called the “Video Surveillance Protection Act.” Currently the Justice Department gives away “millions of dollars” through the Edwin Burn Grant Program for video surveillance projects in smaller cites. The grants go to cities whose Congressional representatives get their cities “earmarked” for a grant. (Chwat read a list of cities-including Shreveport, La.; Allentown, Pa.; and Billings, Mont.-that have received grants in the $500,000 range.) “I would make the argument to Congress that instead of earmarking, we should create a program where cities could apply for grants for the purchase of [video surveillance] equipment that would be professionally installed,” Chwat said.