SIA summit information-packed

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06/23/2011

I returned yesterday from the SIA Government Summit, which took place in Washington DC, June 21 and 22.

The summit is designed to give those in the security industry, both integrators and manufacturers, an update on what’s going on in the legislative and executive branches that directly affects the security industry.

There was a ton of information presented, and it seemed well targeted to the audience. If you’re a manufacturer or integrator who does business with the government or who would like to do business with the government, there was lots of how-to information packed into these two days.

Speakers included some heavy hitters (and engaging public speakers) like Jonanthan Cofer, principal deputy director, Pentagon Force Protection Agency; Thomas Celluci chief commercialization officer for DHS; Ralph Basham, former director of the Secret Service, TSA chief of staff, and former Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection; and Peter Pietra, TSA director of privacy policy and compliance.

I expect to write a few stories based on the summit, but here’s a description of one of the highlights: Celluci’s address.

Thomas Cellucci, chief commercialization officer for DHS, talked about how he’s helping DHS learn to do business with the private sector. “I looked at it from a business person’s perspective.”

He helped the new government agency (“DHS is only 8 years old, if it were a child it would be learning how to read and write and going into the second grade ... but it’s also a $70 billion enterprise.”) define its needs and wants, he explained. Once the agency was able to articulate that (“now it rolls off their tongues,” he said) then he could figure out how to get the private sector involved to help DHS solve problems.

The private sector will hear more and more about public-private partnerships from the Obama Administration, he said. “There’s never been a better time for the private sector to do business with the government,” he said. However, he said “Tommy (referring to himself in the third person) travels all over the world for DHS [doing outreach about how DHS wants to work with private sector companies] so the competition for private sector involvement has never been stiffer.”

President Obama will announce in the near future that the commercialization process that Cellucci developed for DHS, will be instituted as a pilot project across other government agencies, he said.

Specifically, Cellucci talked about the SECURE program. Here’s a synopsis of the program:

“The SECURE Program is an efficient and cost-effective program to foster cooperative win-win partnerships between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the private sector. The Department works with the private sector to develop products, systems or services aligned to the needs of its operating components, first responders and critical infrastructure/key resources owners and operators, representing in many cases, large potential available markets. The Department posts detailed operational requirements in the form of an Operational Requirements Document (ORD) on this site to articulate specific requirements in conjunction with a conservative estimate of the Potential Available Market (PAM) of a given product, system, or service.

Private sector entities possessing technologies or products aligned to these requirements can use this valuable information to generate a business case and develop (at their cost) a fully deployable product or service after their verification of market potential. The Department assures that a product or service has demonstrated operational performance that meets a given private sector entity's published specifications through our review of recognized third-party independent testing data. This enables the private sector, through the free market system, to develop products and services that capture significant revenue opportunities and demonstrates to potential purchasers that the product does what it claims to do.”

He showed a short CNN video about a project where DHS asked the private sector to come up with a camera that could be be installed on mass transit and withstand blasts. DHS put out the request, 26 companies responded and within a month two companies developed prototypes. Ultimately, the agency was able to procure a camera, designed specifically for this purpose and the cameras cost $150 apiece. The whole process was completed within three months. The government will purchase a lot of these, so that private sector manufacturer is happy. DHS is happy, and the American taxpayer benefits from this cost efficiency as well.

Interested in this program?  Send Cellucci an email  asking for a “full response package.” Thomas.Cellucci@dhs.gov He said he’s willing to talk on the phone to companies about the best way to approach the department.

One word of advice he shared: It’s nice if you have “good customer service and you care about your customers” but DHS needs to know “what makes you different and better” than others. “How can you [make a product or provide a service] that’s better, faster and less expensive?”

On an entirely different topic: when I was at the summit, I learned that Ron Hawkins, communications manager for SIA, whom I work with frequently, is taking a leave of absence for about eight months. Ron is an Air National Guard reservist and he’s being deployed to Afghanistan. His last day at SIA is tomorrow. “I’ll be back in time for ISC West,” he told me.

Thanks, Ron, for your service.