The federal government has spent so much on security, cybersecurity and two wars that the media struggles just to count the money – and much of it has contributed to massive growth in the contracting industry. Political debates in Washington now center on the scale of the federal budget, and how to reign in spending.
How that money has spent has changed as well. David Zolet, president of business development for Computer Sciences Corp.’s North American public-sector business, tells Washington Technology, “The increased use of IDIQ contracts and the quicker turnaround of those activities has changed how we do contracting.”
And yet, the event is not behind us. Just today, the Washington Post reports “U.S. officials are investigating a possible al-Qaeda plot to detonate a vehicle-borne bomb in Washington or New York City around Sunday’s 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.”
As America prepares to mark the tenth anniversary of the attacks, media reports assess the scale of the changes.
Contracting Industry Impacts
- The New York Times attempts to tally the cost. “In a survey of estimates,” the paper finds, “The answer is $3.3 trillion, or about $7 million for every dollar Al Qaeda spent planning and executing the attacks. While not all of the costs have been borne by the government — and some are still to come — this total equals one-fifth of the current national debt.”
- That spending hasn’t been entirely federal. GovExec notes, “The U.S. government has doled out more than $35 billion in homeland-security grants to state and local governments over the past decade.”
- The security apparatus has extended into the private sector as well. The Washington Post reports, “Before 9/11, Americans did not worry so much about random acts of terrorism, but now they find comfort in knowing that more than a million security guards — double the number in the nation’s workforce a decade ago — patrol shopping malls and power plants and work through the night to protect public spaces”
- MSNBC notes that the Department of Justice has recently begun to investigate “materials used for anti-terrorism training of law enforcement officers” that may be “bigoted against Muslims.”
- Washington Technology reports that “contractors have been in a near-constant state of evolution over the past decade. That condition is likely to extend well into the next decade.”
- The spending boost impacted companies beyond the top contractors. The Fiscal Times profiles ” Rapiscan Systems, makers of security screeners for passengers and cargo,” which “has seen a decade of financial bonanza” since the attacks.
- The federal response to the attacks realigned the economy in many ways. In a story on the response of stock markets, the San Francisco Chronicle notes, “Some sectors, however, prospered as a result of the attacks. Certain technology companies as well as defense and weaponry contractors saw prices for their shares increase substantially, anticipating a boost in government business as the country prepared for the long war on terror. Stock prices also spiked upward for communications and pharmaceutical firms.”
- Forbes argues that “the financial system has gotten more complex for certain, but also more accessible for millions.”
Outside The D.C. Metro Area
- Despite the massive growth of contracting near D.C., the government’s response to the attacks actually moved some jobs and money outside the metro area. The Baltimore Sun profiles the community of Harford, Maryland, where the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) cycle “has brought in thousands of new residents, billions of dollars to the local economy and revamped facilities on the proving ground, as APG has changed from a major weapons testing installation to one that develops sophisticated, computer based warfare and national defense systems.”
- Charlotte’s WFAE notes, “In North Carolina, companies are filling more orders for the defense department. Plane parts, camouflage, and parachutes are all manufactured here. Over the past decade, military spending in North Carolina has tripled.”
- The security ramp-up has extended to National Guard units around the country. Rhode Island’s Providence Journal outlines changes to the equipment and training of the Rhode Island National Guard.
- PC Magazine asks a number of noted cybersecurity experts to comment on the nation’s computer security in the aftermath of the attacks, and finds that “most of the experts agreed that one thing we got very wrong at the time was the conflation of threats to computer security with terrorism.”
- There are still skeptics who believe we haven’t done enough. Security News Daily argues that “national online defenses are weaker than ever.”