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Ask What You Can Do for Your Country

Homeland security directives and stimulus funding are providing security contractors with opportunities across federal, state and local government sectors. Understanding unique bidding, funding and customer needs is essential to winning projects.




The government market is not created equal. Many people talk of doing business with the government or government businesses as if it is one large homogeneous market or customer. In fact, the government market is made up of a number of different submarkets such as doing business with the federal, state or local city or county.

In addition, you may not be doing business with the government directly but organizations that do business with the government. Each one of these subsectors of the government market has its own customer, technology, legislation and procurement requirements, as well as a number of other unique market attributes.

To be successful in the government space it is best to identify the sector you want to focus on and keep abreast of changes occurring from both internal and external forces.

HSPD-12: Access to Success
Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12 (HSPD-12) sought to establish a common identification standard ensuring individuals are indeed who they say they are, so government facilities and sensitive information stored in networks remain protected. The directive mandates that agencies issue smart cards to federal employees and contractors that are “strongly resistant to identity fraud” and “can be rapidly authenticated electronically,” among other stated criteria.

It has been almost five years since the directive was published and still many government agencies are working to adhere to HSPD-12. Thus, this mandate for personal identification and facility protection continues to provide significant business opportunities for the electronic security industry.

Remembering the adage of the government business market — “it moves slowly in one direction with a lot of stops and turns in all directions” - is good advice for security companies new to this market space. Whether it is new, complementary or contradicting mandates from federal and state legislation, evolving industry technology and standards, or inconsistent compliance enforcement, the current government security environment holds great promise and opportunity for security providers that stay current with legislation and the offerings they provide. 

Further expounding on HSPD-12, one could argue that Personal Identification Verification (PIV) has taken center stage. Published in 2005, the Federal Information Processing Standards Publication 201 (FIPS PUB 201) introduced and outlined the PIV access card’s role in HSPD-12. At its basic level, the standard requires smart card technology, photo badging, biometric data and high data storage ability — a tall order at the time of its implementation. However, with the rapid research and development by high-tech electronic security manufacturers, today’s smart cards are FIPS compliant with backward compatibility.   

As electronic security experts, our industry has decades of experience in designing and installing physical access control (PAC) systems. From magnetic swipe cards/readers for an outdoor parking garage gate to proximity and integrated keypad readers for an interior closed area door to biometric palm readers on perimeter office doors, security companies have matched the latest technology and applications to the needs of the customer for many years.

Today’s FIPS and PIV requirements do not change this proven approach. However, there are required changes to the way traditional security companies think about access control on government PAC systems with FIPS and PIV requirements. First, there is the deployment of a PAC system that meets the requirements of the new credentials and guidelines, especially in the areas of registration and verification.

Conventional alarm companies are accustomed to issuing access cards to end users and tracking those cards in the access system. With Uncle Sam issuing the cards, the role of the security provider changes to registering the user and the card in the PAC system. Verification of the card user becomes a central role of the PAC system to ensure that the card is being presented by the person to whom it was issued.

As we all know, without user verification, a lost or stolen card could be used by any unauthorized user to gain access to a restricted area or information. In addition, verification that the card has not been revoked is critical. Integrating a digital video surveillance system with the PAC system is an ideal method for verifying the user’s authenticity and for managing registered user data.  

Staying Ahead of the Game
An essential component to success in the government space entails staying in front of the applicable agencies and requirements to provide the necessary solutions, says Christopher BenVau, vice president of Stanley Convergent Security Solutions’ (CSS) National Accounts and Government teams.

“As a government security partner our approach is to be flexible and to work with the end users to anticipate all facets of a project both in the short term and long term,” BenVau says.

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Article Topics
Video Surveillance · Access Control · Fire/Life Safety · Vertical Markets · Fire/Life Safety 2 · Features · FIPS-201 · Government · Government Agencies · IT · Physical Access Control · All Topics
Features, FIPS-201, Government, Government Agencies, IT, Physical Access Control


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