Special Homeland Security Section: Card Shows His Hand
On Nov. 26, 2000, Andrew Card, who had served in the administrations of two former presidents, was appointed President George W. Bush’s chief of staff. His last day in that position was April 14, 2006, making him the second-longest serving White House chief of staff.
Prior and following nearly 20 years of public service, in 1993 Card became president and CEO of the American Automobile Manufacturers Association (AAMA) until it was dissolved in December 1998. He then spent a year as General Motors’ vice president of government relations.
Currently, Card serves on the board of directors at Union Pacific Corp. He also makes frequent public speaking appearances, as he will as the keynote presenter at the Security Industry Association (SIA) 2007 Government Summit June 12 in Washington D.C. Security Sales & Integration asked Card to share his views on protecting America and the electronic security industry’s role in that mission.
What progress do you believe America has made since 9/11 in regard to protecting its people, interests and economy?
Andrew Card: One of the remarkable accomplishments following the unprecedented and almost unimaginable attacks of 9/11 is the way the United States and other responsible nations of the world responded to improve security and mitigate economic disruption. Governments created new security agencies, while bureaucracies set new priorities, reorganized and integrated. Internal and external communications went through a revolution. Commerce recovered quickly and our economy rebounded at the same time that we had to go to war.
The bottom line: America is better today at protecting our people, our interests and our economy. Can more be done? Absolutely, yes. Government officials at local, state and national levels need to better define security infrastructure responsibilities, improve inter-jurisdictional communications, and ensure better training. Intelligence communities need to be more nimble in threat analysis and in sharing appropriate information across jurisdictions.
Even with spending constraints, improvements can become reality. Budget priorities, to the extent possible, must be set with reallocation rather than new resources. Parochial bureaucracies must change to meet the realities of today’s security threats.
How can private industry such as manufacturer and installers of electronic security systems become materially involved in government security solutions?
Card: Harness the power of association — not just the Security Industry Association, but also the right of association that is enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution. Add your voice to the collective debate on how best to meet challenges and shape policy, and establish alliances with other trade associations to find opportunities to educate government leaders. Look for opportunities to have people from your industry serve on advisory boards.
The private sector plays an important role in the functioning of our government. Nearly a third of the federal budget is spent on purchasing goods and services from the private sector — and for good reason. Private industry has the flexibility to respond to changes in the marketplace and the incentives to foster innovation. All these things contribute to greater efficiency.
If you were CEO of a security equipment manufacturing or installing business, what strategy would you deploy to make the government your customer?
Card: Rule No. 1 is “know your customer.” What does the government need? Most important, know the process. Federal contracting can be cumbersome, but there is assistance available from both inside and outside of government. Trade associations can play a huge role in helping members navigate the procurement process, and agencies such as the General Services Administration [GSA] offer some great resources, too. A variety of consulting firms have federal marketing practices.
Is this business mostly only for large, government contractors? Where and how can smaller operators get this business?
Card: Small business is the engine that drives America, and there are always opportunities for small businesses to contract with the federal government. A good place to start is the General Services Administration’s Office of Small Business Utilization [www.gsa.gov/sbu] or the Small Business Administration’s [SBA] Office of Government Contracting [http://www.sba.gov/GC]. Both these offices provide resources and seminars on how small companies can market to the federal government.
Another option is subcontracting. Market your products to the larger contractors and look for those opportunities. GSA and SBA can help guide this process as well.
What sort of security solutions is the government looking for? Do you believe enough funding is being earmarked and disseminated for electronic security?
Card: Government is looking for cost-effective solutions to real problems. Most of the answers will come from entrepreneurs in the private sector. The market is the best driver of innovation, and the best way to demonstrate capabilities of products is through results. Again, harnessing the power of association and educating leaders through a collective voice is a very effective way to drive policy.
On the question of funding, with tight budgets there are never ‘enough’ funds for a particular initiative. Apportioning scarce funds is one of the greatest challenges in government, but the use of electronic security has the potential to accomplish more with less, and that should be something that is highlighted to policymakers.
Are you surprised nothing major has happened on U.S. soil since 9/11? Why is that; do you think we are on borrowed time?
Card: I would attribute that to a public that is more aware, and to changes in the intelligence and law enforcement communities. The tools provided by the USA PATRIOT Act — especially the ones that contribute to the detection and prevention of terrorist financing — are actually proactive. We’ll never know how many attacks were stopped because terrorists didn’t get the resources they needed or their funding was cut off.
We do need to be careful not to have a false sense of security. The enemy does want to get us, and they only have to be right once. Our intelligence and law enforcement professionals have to be right all of the time. The War on Terror is real, and to the extent that we can keep the battle off our soil, the better off we will be.
Do you believe Americans’ personal liberties in terms of privacy have been compromised at all since 9/11? How far can that go? How far does it need to go?
Card: The thrust behind legislation and policy enacted after 9/11 was protection; no one had a desire to invade privacy. In fact, special rules were put in place to protect privacy. The president has a paramount responsibility to protect us. Yes, there should be a healthy balance, but that balance can only come from clear guidelines for law enforcement personnel.
There are professionals who are paid to be paranoid. We owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women of the Secret Service, the FBI, and state and local police. These professionals need to know where the line is, and that comes from our leaders in Congress and the administration. We need to know that we can count on our law enforcement professionals knowing exactly where the line is
so they don’t cross it.
What is your opinion of current Department of Homeland Security (DHS) leadership?
Card: I have confidence in the leadership at DHS. They have a tough job not only in meeting their responsibility to protect us but also in managing very diverse bureaucracies that were brought together unwillingly. There are good, competent people led by Secretary Michael Chertoff and Deputy Secretary Michael Jackson running DHS, and they need all the help they can get. They need people who are willing to be part of the solution, not just critics.
Over the next few years, I think we will start to see some of the long-term goals envisioned when DHS was created start to come to fruition.
Where do you believe our country is most vulnerable; what can be done about it?
Card: I don’t want to give a roadmap to a terrorist, but I do believe our great vulnerability is complacency and apathy. This enemy is extremely patient, and they count on the general optimism and relatively short collective memory of the American people.
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