Boise-based group focuses on Homeland security-Alliance aims to link businesses, government

A Boise-based non-profit organization focusing on homeland security was unveiled at the Idaho Capitol building Thursday.

Ken Dey
The Idaho Statesman

Called the Homeland Security Leadership Alliance,
the organization´s goal is to bring together businesses and industries involved in homeland security and the local, state and federal officials responsible for providing that security.

Sean Spence, executive director of the alliance, said there has been a need for a central organization that connects participants in the homeland security industry.

“The homeland security industry is fairly unique because of the intermingling of government and the corporate world,” Spence said. “Just like the overall defense industry or the space program, there is a crossover of funding, research and development.”

Spence envisions the alliance as a conduit for information for the various players in the industry. It can also serve as a way for companies with homeland security products to find funding or markets for those products.

“There are many companies doing great things, but they need resources, they need information and they need connections,” Spence said.

Rand Lewis, a terrorism expert and director of the University of Idaho´s Initiative for Research on Infrastructure Security, spoke at the unveiling. He said when the federal government starts releasing funds for homeland security there´s going to be a rush for the money.

“There are so many sharks in the water waiting for the money … that there´s no way single entities can be competitive,” Lewis said.

Lewis isn´t a member of the new alliance, but he said bringing groups together with interests in homeland security is a good start. The important thing, he said, is that the organization has to make sure it retains its credibility.

Lewis said a lot of “fly-by-night” operations that will change business plans and put a new spin on products to capture some of the money that will be spent on homeland security.

Spence acknowledges there was a certain level of skepticism about the goals of the alliance when it was launched three months ago, and he said from the beginning that credibility has been an important issue.

The alliance´s board of directors includes individuals involved in homeland security on the national and state levels.

Some of the board members include Brig. Gen. Annette Sobel, the National Guard Assistant for Weapons of Mass Destruction and Civil Support, and Ellis Stanley, general manager of emergency services for Los Angeles.

Spence said they are also working on safeguards and a screening process to make sure membership in the organization isn´t offered to individuals or businesses that could be involved in fraudulent endeavors.

In addition to providing a method for industry and government to intermingle, Spence said the alliance also wants to develop a list of experts who can respond to question and concerns about homeland security.

The organization is now seeking members, and Spence said so far about 50 members have joined from at least 15 states.

Spence said they expect to have more than 150 members by the end of February.

To offer story ideas or comments, contact Ken Dey
[email protected] or 377-6428

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