How Security Has Changed

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When terrorists hijacked four planes to use them as weapons and killed thousands of innocent people in the process, a chain reaction started that quickly swept across the country. Today we live with many of those changes, from heightened security checkpoints at airports to more requirements to get a driver’s license. Government contractors saw their market changed overnight, with a rush of government spending on new security priorities, creating an abundance of business opportunities. Ten years later, contractors still feel the impact, including the types of business opportunities available, the role of the financial markets and the relationship between contractors and government agencies. But other changes have been at work as well. Some are counteractions to the reaction to the Sept. 11 attacks. Others would have happened anyway. Either way, 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 biggest game-changer was the sudden awareness of the security vulnerabilities that threatened the United States and the need to address those vulnerabilities. The government reaction was to rapidly start addressing security issues, which meant the allocation of funds and the awarding of contracts. First, there was the creation of the. Transportation Security Administration and then the Homeland Security Department; other agencies such as the Justice and State departments increased their spending on security. More money also began flowing to state and local governments in the form of grants. The heightened security concerns also led the United States to launch the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and supporting those efforts also helped fuel an explosion of spending with government contractors. In fiscal 2000, the contractors on Washington Technology’s Top 100 rankings had an aggregate of $26.8 billion in prime contracts. In fiscal 2010, the number had climbed to $132 billion. Much...
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