Homeland security industry group is launched

An industry group has been created to connect private-sector companies with the Department of Homeland Security.

Executives of the new Homeland Security Business Executive Council announced the launch of the nonpartisan, nonprofit group today in Washington.

The Department of Homeland Security supports the creation of the group, an administration official said.

The Washington-based council will explore the role private industry should play in homeland security, foster public-private partnerships to enhance security and communicate industry concerns to the department and legislators, according to Michael Meldon, president and CEO of the council.

'We are going to provide substance and access to people interested in working with the department,' Meldon said.

A former executive at Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego, Meldon is also senior director for development at Equity International Inc., a business development firm in Washington specializing in corporate involvement in homeland and global security and disaster response.

The council's launch was announced at a conference hosted by Equity International.

Council leaders first met with about 60 companies June 6, including representatives from Boeing Co., Lockheed Martin Corp., Raytheon Co. and BearingPoint Inc., Meldon said. They discussed the balance between government regulations and incentives to get private industry to help the government improve homeland security.

The council's second meeting will be July 2 in Washington, where privacy issues related to homeland security will be discussed, Meldon said.

Jan Mares, senior business analyst in the Office of Private Sector Liaison in the Homeland Security Department, said department officials recognize the importance of the private sector in securing the nation, and support the creation of groups such as the council.

'One of our jobs [in the Office of Private Sector Liaison] is to foster communication and advise the [department] secretary on the impact of regulations on the private sector,' Manes said. 'It's also our job to promote public-private partnerships, which is exactly what the council is being created to do. What is being announced here today is exactly the thing we want to see occur. I look forward to working with the council.'

The council will work to encourage the development of homeland security technology solutions for the government that can also be sold in the commercial marketplace. Such solutions will keep companies interested in the government market 'because they are doing something beneficial for homeland security and their bottom line,' Meldon said.

The council's Web site is http://www.homeland-security-council.org/index.asp.

At the Equity International conference, a Homeland Security Department official warned government contractors against selling solutions that provide capabilities the government doesn't need or want.

'I can't tell you how many vendors say 'I can tell you where every [shipping] container is, everywhere in the world.' That's too much information,' said Andrew Maner, chief of staff and director of the Transition Management Office for Customs and Border Protection.

'Vendors should ask 'What do they need to know?'' Maner said. 'I need to know where the container started, if it was checked by a Customs official, if it was sealed properly, and did it arrive where it was supposed to. We need the right information to the right people at the right time. We don't need to know a container is 2,900 miles south of Newfoundland.'

Gail Repsher Emery writes for Washington Technology magazine.

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