- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 29, 2003


Allen Shay has watched government spending for security technology inch up every year. But it only started to rocket last year. Forty-eight-year-old Shay watched it happen as he built a career as an expert in defense contracting. He spent 26 years with Digital Equipment Corporation working with supercomputers and integrators. Now, he’s president of Teradata Corporation, a division of NCR Government Systems Corporation, a data-warehousing company in Dayton, Ohio. Shay also did a short stint running Sprint’s federal contracting business. “I sold everything from computers to long-distance service and worked for integrators, consulting firms and technology companies,” he says.

Having watched the homeland-security market grow steadily, Shay says finding jobs gets easier every year. “How you get into the government contracting business has a great deal to do with your background in security technology,” he says. “There is a wide gamut of technical skills necessary to work on biosecurity devices, and fingerprint and identification systems to detect potential terrorists at border entry points.”

There are job opportunities at large and small companies. “It would be a big mistake excluding tiny startups,” says Shay. “They could have mind-boggling technology that could revolutionize the industry.”

Homeland security became a top priority following 9-11. Many companies selling security devices were disappointed in the level of business for a year and a half following the disaster, even though homeland security’s importance was driven home by the Homeland Security Industries Association, a Washington, D.C.-based industry association made up of 75 security and defense contractors. In November 2002, it released reports that concentrated on improving security in airports, seaports and the food supply and recommended ways the government can begin tackling the issues.

“But when the Department of Homeland Security became a reality and the war in Iraq wound down, a lot of attention was focused on homeland security,” says Shay. “Now there is finally money available to fund contracting projects.” That means jobs in the emerging homeland-security industry. Hot areas where demand far exceeds the supply are data mining, decision support and analytics, according to Shay. “There will also be jobs with government consultants and integrators,” he says. “Large consulting companies like Booz Allen Hamilton, for example, will be playing a big role in developing system integration technology.”

Shay says the government is not going to return to the days when it would hire a bunch of COBOL programmers from Lockheed Martin Corporation to build a system. “There is no returning to the past,” he insists. Bill Payson, president of Senior Techs, a Campbell, Calif.-based job bank for senior techs in the information-technology industry, vehemently disagrees. “That’s the prevailing opinion, which is totally inaccurate,” he says. “Many technology companies have concluded they are going to make do with COBOL because it’s cheaper adapting it to the Internet than starting over. You don’t need a new language to do that. You can do it with COBOL and Web-enabling technology which takes COBOL-based data and converts it to Internet languages such as .Net. There are companies that are developing compilers that take COBOL software and put it onto the Internet without having to reinvent it.” COBOL programmers will also be playing a role in developing security technology for the Homeland Security Department, says Payson. If true, a new spectrum of jobs will be opening.

The COBOL issue is not new. At the top of the priority list is hooking up with a contractor that will kill for your talents. Start your search by checking out the players in the government contracting world. Punch in “Homeland Security Department” on the Google search engine, for example, and you’ll find a bunch of leads. A recent conference about security issues and technology, for instance, featured the session “Homeland Security Procurement: Opportunities for the Contracting Community.” There are similar conferences taking place throughout the United States. Government Executive magazine (www.govexec.com) lists the top 100 government contractors by total purchases. Lockheed Martin tops the list, followed by Boeing Co., Northrop Grumman Corp., Raytheon Co., General Dynamics Corp., United Technologies Corp., SAIC, General Electric Co. and Carlyle Group. Federal Computer Week (www.fcw.com) gives comprehensive news coverage of all government agencies. It’s a good vehicle for finding out about trends and changes within government agencies. It could mean news about contractors.


If you have any questions contact Bob Weinstein at [email protected]

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