TARP and the wider push to stimulate the economy have little, at first blush, to do with homeland security or counterterrorism. However, for the companies in this space, the contractors, it could have a significant impact.
One of the issues the government is attempting to deal with is how to make the money move around the system faster. How to make taxpayer dollars not only move freely around taxpayers again, but to ensure that they keep moving around US taxpayers rather than disappearing into paying off debt, or being spent on Chinese goods at Walmart. Although not a comment I’ve been heard to make often, money disappearing into savings and investments at the moment are unhelpful for the economy.
What does that mean for the homeland security community? As I have mentioned before, the economic crisis and President Obama’s recently enfranchised masses may combine for outrage over the coming 12 months if there are no improvements to the economy. Police departments should be reviewing their crowd-control policies and training now, because I feel it likely that for some they will be tested soon.
Having lectured at one of the largest police forces in the country recently, I know that some are already reading the writing on the wall, and reaching out to those with the relevant expertise to deal with the potential culture shift in protesters from the generally amicable protest profile in the US to a more Western European model — agitators and agitator tactics are much more mobile now, something we saw at the DNC.
Efforts to stimulate the economy may also, over time, affect the decision-making process as it relates to government contracting. Arguably from an economic perspective a privately held, small business is a much better economic bet than a publicly held entity at this time; profit margins are smaller and there is no requirement to meet shareholder obligations or to pay large compensation. The industry’s small businesses are hunkering down, as they are in all sectors, and fighting through; using them as the source of products and services will enable government to far more directly target the areas into which government funds are being spent, and with whom.
Certainly no single measure will be perfect, but given that elements of contracting are open to review anyway, now is the time that the allocation system is examined with a view to providing additional economic benefit.