After 9/11, our nation’s security was scheduled for an extreme makeover. The transformation is ongoing. With terrorist attacks threatening countries all over the world and Internet viruses slowing networks and causing major economic damage, now is the time for the federal government to be more alert than ever.

As our extreme makeover continues, homeland security funding has almost tripled since 2001 and will include a $3.6 billion increase in 2005 for the Department of Homeland Security. State and local governments are beginning to combine safe, proven solutions with leading-edge technologies such as radio frequency identification to support federal security goals. Our overall mindset has changed and our government continues to partner with contractors and systems integrators to ensure that more security systems are installed.

So where are the jobs? As fire/life safety contributing editor Wayne Moore explains in his feature on page 68, profitable government jobs are available all around, even though they may involve a ton of paperwork. The General Services Administration is one resource for qualified contractors to land fire alarm and security system installation projects. And, although new government buildings haven’t been built, contractors should take advantage of the retrofit market that is on the rise for new and upgraded security systems.

Mass Notification System installations are one component of security that will continue to experience growth as a result of Department of Defense requirements. Providing real-time information to all building occupants during emergency situations is crucial, but only contractors who understand the entire installation process––from design to testing and maintenance––will be granted the work.

There is opportunity for contractors to be more educated in these areas and become one of the building blocks of a secure government. Terrorists will be on the loose for many years to come, and we must continue to improve, change and grow as defenders to protect our people and our homeland.