(Part of a BorderLines series on the Homeland Security Complex.)
Color it red. The Obama administration has left in place the brightly colored, much-criticized terrorism threat chart of the Department of Homeland Security. But new administration and congressional policies and budget priorities are provoking elevated levels of activity in the counterterrorism market. The fifth annual Homeland Security Investors Conference on Oct. 21 in Washington, DC brought featured the largest number of sponsors, presenters, and participants. Excitement about billions of dollars in DHS contracts was feverish. John Mack III, executive vice president of conference sponsor Imperial Capital, said the homeland security business is booming. One reason for increased corporate attention to homeland security, explained Mack, is widespread perception that Democratic Party politicians are more willing to increase spending for homeland security than for defense. Mack told Homeland Security Today that among investors “DHS s seen as a model for public and private partnerships." What is more, at DHS "there are just so many different long-term programs" in so many different areas, particularly identity solutions, critical infrastructure protection and information security. Furthermore, "the macro trend is that the government is the only one spending money." Since its creation in early 2003 DHS has been constructed as a public-private partnership fed by an ever-larger homeland security budget and a departmental proclivity to outsource homeland security operations. This so-called partnership has, together with increased intelligence outsourcing to private firms, greatly boosted the national security contracting by the federal government but also given rise to a new national security complex that joins defense, intelligence, and homeland security spending. The leading firms in the military-industrial complex, such as Lockheed Martin and SAIC, are also the leading intelligence and homeland security contractors. The Homeland Security Investors Conference was just one indication of the meteoric rise in homeland security business. Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 there has been a proliferation of homeland security and border security conferences that aim to grow a security partnership between government and business.
What distinguished the latest of these conferences was its focus on the new merger & acquisitions market in the homeland security industry. Conference sponsors were investment firms like Imperial Capital, Civitas Group, and CapitalSource.
Next: Homeland Security Partnership Promoted by New Business Council