That’s the opinion of Homeland Security Research Corp. In 2000, the market was $4 billion, according to the San Jose, Calif.-based market consultant. The federal government created DHS and pumped billions of dollars into airline security improvements immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks. The market hit $100 billion in 2003, and will climb to more than $170 billion by 2006, HSRC estimates.

Secretary Thomas Ridge’s staffers are still struggling to shape 22 agencies and 180,000 employees into a seamless whole. State and local governments are scrambling to digest available federal grants, while grumbling about the allocation formulas. A House appropriations subcommittee on June 3 approved $30.8 billion for DHS in fiscal 2005, a 5% increase over current levels.

More than half the total will go for border and port security. Their share is growing, but seaport and transit security advocates say it still falls far short of what is needed. Public infrastructure protection will get some $865 million, mostly for vulnerability assessments.

The next growth spurt will be in technology. Accenture LLP snagged a federal contract to overhaul the U.S. visa and passport system and create a massive database to monitor visitors’ movements. The five-year deal could stretch to 10 and earn the Bermuda-based consultant up to $10 billion in fees.

Williams Overhauls embassay construction program

With the emphasis on guards and gates at present and on high-tech solutions in the future, the engineering and contracting community has found few opportunities. One exception is the U.S. Embassy program. The 1998 embassy bombings in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi "caught us by surprise," says Charles E. Williams, head of the State Dept.’s Overseas Building Operations branch.

The terrorist attacks highlighted the sorry physical state of some 150 U.S. embassies and consular compounds around the world. Williams, a retired Army Corps of Engineers general, moved to accelerate already-planned changes in the program. "We manage a $15-billion capital program," he told a homeland security conference audience June 3 in Washington, D.C. "Most of our buildings are 40 years old. We weren’t getting the work out fast enough."

OBO used design-build contracting to replace the Tanzanian and Kenyan compounds in 24 months, says Williams. "We use a basic design package, with finishing details that are appropriate to the host country," he says. The program uses U.S. contractors with security clearances, which adds about 25% to the cost, says Williams. A new embassy in Iraq will be "the largest diplomatic facility we have," he says.

(Photo by Andrew G. Wright for ENR)

early three years after the smoke clouds cleared from the rubble of the World Trade Center and Pentagon disasters, those in the Homeland Security business are starting to see a silver lining. A market primed by funding channeled through the nascent Dept. of Homeland Security is crossing over to the private sector and beginning to boom.