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State and Local Governments Look To Play A Major Role In USDA Economic Stimulus Allocations

Funding for the Department of Agriculture under the Economic Stimulus Package acts on two of the core elements of the Obama-Biden platform; protecting American families and taking advantage of the economic opportunities of rural America. The first of these elements is addressed in Supplemental Nutrition Programs responsible for over two-thirds of the funds allocated to the department. Combined with spending under several different departments, the Stimulus Package also acts on the commitment President Obama made to extending technology to and building opportunities for, farmers and businesses in rural America.

Facts and Impacts of USDA Stimulus Spending:

  • The Department of Agriculture has been allocated over $27 Billion under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
  • The health, safety and welfare of American families continues to be emphasized in the Economic Stimulus Package as over $20 Billion of Agriculture spending is added to the billions being spent on social services by the Department of Health and Human Services, Education and Housing and Urban Development
  • Information technology will be a major component as the Stimulus Package looks to make rural communities fertile ground for businesses by closely following the Obama-Biden plan of "Connecting America"
  • Due to the local impact of these programs, it is likely that State and Local Governments and individual citizens will be awarded the vast majority of these funds

Competition for Business:

  • Social services may have won the majority of spending, but the Department of Agriculture will still require a broad range of services from state and local, and federal contractors. Architecture, Engineering and Construction, Environmental and Information Technology firms should get in as early as possible. These requirements will be likely be large and highly contested
  • Grants will make up a large portion of the community development spending, contractors should already be in the process of developing and pushing requirements to state and local entities
  • On the federal side look for the Department of Agriculture to use established MACs, GWACs and GSA Schedules to adhere to timelines associated with spending
  • Contractors interested in the community development aspect of the Department of Agriculture allocations may also be interested in S&L actions resulting from spending under the Department of Commerce, Interior and Transportation

Health IT Provisions in the Stimulus Package are Stepping Stones to Greater Health Care Reform

Over the next few weeks the President will provide further direction on the health IT provisions as part of the bigger picture. The President plans to hold a health care summit next week. However, many of the health IT funding decisions will be hashed out by the unnamed Secretary of HHS. The Secretary will be an instrumental decision maker and so stakeholders have been left to speculate.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is a dress rehearsal for President Obama's health care reform agenda. The package allocates a net of $19 billion for several health information technology (IT) provisions, laying the ground work for reform and mobilizing stakeholders.

The lion's share of the sum is $17.2 billion in Medicare and Medicaid electronic health record (EHR) incentive payments over a five-year period for hospitals and physicians demonstrating the meaningful use of an EHR. Technicalities of how the money will flow and be spent have not yet been answered. The remaining $2 billion has been set aside for the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) to be used as grants and loans to support health IT initiatives. $20 million of the ONC funds is already earmarked to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for developing technical standards and $300 million to support regional health information exchanges. One stipulation is that funds will only be made available after the Secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) submits a federal health IT plan due 90 days after the enactment of the law. Grants to states to create loan programs for EHRs are not to be awarded prior to January 1, 2010. Grants for planning and expanding the adoption of health IT require a state match rate beginning in 2011. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that only 2.3% of health IT funds allocated in the stimulus package would be distributed in fiscal years 2009 and 2010. 2009 will primarily be utilized as a planning year, establishing standards and requirements.

The amount of funding dedicated to health IT in the Act is significant. The financial support will ramp-up adoption and implementation efforts nationwide and lead to the long-awaited "tipping point". The stimulus will create a slew of business opportunities for contractors, including, system integrators, IT equipment providers, software and service providers. However, health care professionals will face substantial upfront costs, for which contractors may want to consider leasing options and/or alternative financing structures. The federal government may dictate procurement regulations which contractors should stay abreast of and closely adhere to if and when they come down the pipeline. In addition to potential procurement directives, vendor systems must meet government standards and should seek certification from the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT) to work towards compliance. The government, at all levels, continues to wrestle with privacy and security issues, however, states were given some flexibility in regards to these challenges. Vendors should continue to engage in stakeholder discussions about how to tackle these concerns. Further, greater health care reform is anticipated to follow the health measures in the stimulus, for which contractors may be sought for consulting and administrative services.

FCC holds summit on Next Generation 911 network and data issues

On February 25th, the Federal Communications Commission held a summit on Next Generation IP-Enabled 911 and E911. The summit was held in response to the New and Emerging Technologies 911 Improvement Act of 2008 (NET 911 Act), which requires that the FCC work with industry to promote consistency in the deployment and operation of new 911 technologies. The topics discussed centered on issues related to an IP-enabled 911 network along with issues pertaining to data transfer.

Some of the key areas of discussion included:

Best practices

  • Agencies are limited by existing infrastructure and funding when it comes to implementing new 911 networks.
  • Standards are in place and available through non-profit organizations such as APCO and NENA.
  • The biggest challenge for PSAPs is how to handle a variety of different calls (land-line, cellular, or IP) with legacy infrastructure.

How to handle call overflow

  • It is up to each individual agency to determine the best way to handle overflow.
  • Suggestions included consolidation or shared resources.
  • There needs to be more consolidation of administration and not of facilities.

This summit is one of the many summits that will take place over the course of 2009 as the FCC works to understand and respond to the NET 911 Act. GovWin has seen a large influx of PSAPs that are moving towards an IP-enabled infrastructure. While a switch to updated technology can be expensive, many agencies are utilizing their 911 surcharge tax money to pay for these much needed upgrades. States like Michigan, Minnesota, and Texas are in the process of moving towards IP-enabled networks and more are to follow.

Does the DHS Stimulus Spending Reflect the President's Priorities or a Quick Business Investment?

As I study the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) portion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), I started to wonder whether the specific projects were identified because the administration saw them as important or just good business. For example, the DOE, HHS and Education funding represents the highest priorities of the President's early agenda and thus it makes sense it would be funded that way. Ultimately, DHS turned out to be a winner by getting funding support for a Consolidated Headquarters and creating an estimated 47,700 jobs (combining federal and contract).

DHS Will Be Spending

Based on the speed with which much of this spending is anticipated to be infused into the market, it is likely DHS will use existing contracts and funding streams to get this money in the hands of private businesses, the vendor community. We anticipate GSA schedules, the EAGLE contract and other existing contract vehicles will be an efficient resource as DHS tries to spend the stimulus funding within the required timeframe. Operations like CBP's Non-Intrusive Inspection (NII) systems, and ICE's Automation Modernization already have contracts established which could be utilized for these projects, however at $100 M and $20 M respectively, those projects don't represent the lion's share of the DHS funding (even when you factor in the $160 M for CBP's tactical communications funding).

Similar to other areas of the stimulus package, infrastructure modernization and construction (at CBP, US Coast Guard and FEMA) were well funded and are anticipated to create over 9,000 jobs. This matches the priorities and promises the Obama administration has made to the American people. It is not surprising it was included in this funding.

Aviation Security

On the other hand, TSA's funding for "aviation security" allows $1 Billion to be spent on the procurement and installation of "checked baggage explosives detection systems and checkpoint explosives detection equipment." This spending dramatically expands the market for this technology. By default, this means the Obama administration believes in and trusts this technology area and understands there is a need for it within TSA. Compared to border security, the aviation security market has matured as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Certainly this funding will improve TSA operations and increase passenger security and that is a great thing. From an analyst perspective, I've been waiting to see how Obama and Secretary Napolitano handle the issue of border security. Mainly, I'm interested in how they prioritize and spend on technology and border security solutions. Does the funding priority placed on TSA and DHS HQs project show a decision in DHS priorities or are those just smart, lucrative business options to boost our economy?

Border Security on the Southwest Border

As a side note, border security technology received an infusion of $100 M through this stimulus package. GovWin has been unable to get a clarification from government officials as to whether contracts like SBINet will be evaluated as possible spending sources for that funding. Obviously within a multi-billion dollar contract another $100 M does not make a significant impact, but much of the description within the legislation matches the original goals of SBINet. For example, ARRA states this funding is for the "expedited development and deployment of border security technology on the Southwest border." However, the intended job creation for CBP's construction projects within the legislation is anticipated to benefit local, border communities so it is likely the administration would like the stimulus spending to support the local Southwest border communities as well. If so, vendors should be prepared to this type of requirement to take shape outside of SBINet, but could still funnel through a contract like EAGLE. Look for more information in the near future as we try to nail down some of these common questions.

Vendor Impact

Regardless, DHS funding was predominately focused on federal operations (with some state and local grant money through FEMA). These are more likely to become viable business opportunities and task order opportunities than many of the other federal agencies. Vendors should keep an eye on the usual suspects – EAGLE, SBINet, GSA Schedules and other agency contracts – for upcoming opportunities in the aforementioned areas. Likewise, vendors should keep in mind the accountability, transparency and efficiency themes which the administration has been trumpeting since day one both internally and through this stimulus package. In addition to and VP Joe Biden watching over this process, DHS Inspector General also received funding for the administration and oversight burden of tracking and monitoring this funding. Vendors with success and past performance on DHS contracts should use that position to try to win DHS stimulus funding but also keep in mind the additional strings and reporting that come along with it.

The President Speaks to Congress and Identifies the Priorities for the Next Few Years

With more budget details expected on Thursday, we wanted to take a closer look today at last night's address for insight into the spending priorities and hot topics in the President's agenda. Not surprisingly, President Obama reviewed not only the events which led to this economic recession but also the proposed steps to bring our economy back. For those government contractors looking to glean wisdom from this speech and get a head start on budget priorities, the President only revealed high level categories. I'll try to analyze the speech in the context of your business development and/or mission needs.

Beyond Budget Spending

In respect to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the President emphasized the oversight and accountability which will be tied to every dollar of stimulus spending. Expect everyone from the Vice President, IG and Obama himself to be reviewing the stimulus spending, vendors should be aware of the attention and red tape which will accompany any stimulus spending contract or grant. Along the same lines, President Obama made strong statements regarding regulatory system reforms. Obama asked Congress to set new rules for the financial markets, but did not provide specific ways which this may impact business or financial institutions.

Specific to the Budget

The President identified the budget as a "vision" or "blueprint" for America's future but also warned everyone, including members of Congress, that sacrifices will be necessary. According to Obama, the government (through the federal budget) should "catalyze" business. The 3 priority areas in the upcoming budget are energy, healthcare, and education.

Energy: Vendors can expect dramatic changes in incentives and research. The President promised $15 billion in energy research and development including wind, clean coal, biofuel and cutting edge breakthroughs. For our industry this poses an interesting dynamic. Outside of R&D, what available funding or contracts can vendors win? If the American energy sector undergoes the dynamic changes described on Tuesday, vendors can expect contracts for administrative needs, IV&V, efficiency or process improvement and other tangential business practices to a reinvention of this kind.

Healthcare: The President announced a bipartisan committee to convene next week with the goal to reform healthcare in this country. ARRA promoted electronic health records (EHR), cancer research, and preventative care. It sounds like this Healthcare committee and the President's agenda will address reforms, national healthcare and rising costs. Although Obama didn't specifically mention it, vendors who can highlight and promote efficiencies in both healthcare and government-wide will have an interested audience in this administration.

Education: Beyond the education funding opportunities included in ARRA, Obama provided some insight for the upcoming budget's education spending. He promised incentives, career pathways and rewards for effective teachers. This budget will also include support for schools which meet performance standards. Lastly, Obama is planning to expand his charter school campaign commitment. Vendors should begin to think about innovative and new approaches including performance measurements and technology which could have an impact on any level of the educational system.

Other Mentions: National Deficit and Overall Accountability

President Obama confirmed his budget review strategy is underway and a variety of programs are on the chopping block. According to his goals, the Obama administration will cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term. To reach this goal, Obama has already found $2 Trillion in budgetary spending to be cut over the next 10 years. Vendors might not be able to protect certain programs from the administration's line-by-line review but can rest assured that the Obama administration is committed to using private vendors to fulfill requirements and promote business. In another remark which could impact certain vendors while encouraging others, the President promised to end "direct payments to large agribusiness" and eliminate no-bid contracts. Obama also mentioned restoring "a sense of fairness and balance to our tax code" and "ending the tax breaks for corporations that ship our jobs overseas."

Defense Spending

Obama also promised to reform the Defense budget by ending "Cold War-era weapons systems" and including the full price of the Iraq war in the budget (not supplementals). Vendors should expect wherever possible a review of Defense programs and similar to all federal agencies, program managers should supply their government counterparts with statistics and metrics on program's performance and success. This will help them defend their program's legitimacy before administration reviewers.

Tying together Defense budgets and accountability, the President promised to expose the Defense budgets to both 10 year spending plans and war spending impacts. Similarly, vendors can expect to get a better idea of the President's goals for Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan based on how these operations are funded in future budgets. Vendors have been planning for acquisition management and logistics management to become big issues as DoD transitions to a homebound force.


Although the President needed to spend much more time calming and encouraging the American people, we can try to draw some basic conclusions about his administration and use of the budget. The President's priorities and spending are heavily on the domestic and civilian side of the house. Vendors can expect some changes in how programs and spending projects are evaluated and measured, both those that exist and those that will be forthcoming. In the next few years, agencies are going to have to defend their current spending and prove a measured need for future spending. The way programs are regulated will likely change. If the financial regulatory systems will be updated as a result of this current crisis, it is not a stretch to think that many other governing and regulation bodies (or systems) will be updating their practices to match the President's goals. Vendors should (and many already are) match their plans and messaging to meet the President's agenda as displayed through the stimulus package, this speech and Thursday's budget information. There's a new game in town and we know from experience, where the President's attention goes the spending will follow.

Contingency Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan Demand Second Supplemental Funding Action

A recent Bloomberg article reports that the Department of Defense (DoD), in a recent letter to the White House, has delineated the additional funding requirements necessary to support wartime operations through the end of 2009. The DoD is making ready to submit these to Congress in the form of a second supplemental funding bill for FY2009.

The article reports that Pentagon officials are requesting an additional $83 billion in supplemental funding, which will include purchases supporting the following operations and maintenance needs:

  • Additional aircraft and vehicles including hummers, tractors, F-22's, AH-64's, CH-47 transport helicopters
  • Support services and equipment necessary for training and equipping the Afghan National Army
  • Re-set and re-supply of equipment in Iraq and Afghanistan
  • Introduction of an additional 17,000 personnel to the area
  • Construction projects to integrate those additional forces

Despite a very public commitment to overhauling the Pentagon acquisition machine during the election cycle including the use of supplementals, President Obama seems to support several of the specific programs funding is being asked against, such as the addition of personnel. According to a recent NPR article, this addition would be comprised of an injection of an additional 17,000 personnel for both combat and support resources (12,000 and 5,000 personnel, respectively).

News of this second supplemental for FY2009 is very heartening for industry, as this indicates the new President understands the need for continuing support of existing contracts and funding for a redoubled focus on Afghanistan operations. Companies providing related operations and maintenance support can continue to aid the customer without fearing that funding will hit bottom. GovWin is tracking the following opportunities that may be supported by this increase in funding due to their importance in contingency operation efforts:

ARMY Theater-Wide Internal Security Services (TWISS II )
ARMY Battlefield Operations Support System (BOSS)
ARMY Personal Services for Technical and Administrative Service for Army Corps of Engineers Afghanistan District
ARMY Emergency Management Handling Program
ARMY Logistics Staff Support Personal Services to Support MNF-I in Iraq
ARMY Clearance Required Services in Iraq and Afghanistan
ARMY Provide Public Works Functions for Afghan National Army Installations Throughout the Nation of Afghanistan (O&M)(ANA)
ARMY Constant Hawk Capability
DEFENSE Distribution, Disposal and Warehousing Services within a United States International Security Assistance Force Facility in Afghanistan (US/ISAF)
ARMY Common Hardware Systems 4 (CHS-4)

GSA Government-Wide Contracts Poised to Get Billions in Stimulus Spending

While the stimulus package provides GSA over $5.9 billion in funding to modernize government buildings, it is likely to get billions more from other agencies receiving stimulus money looking to leverage GSA's government-wide contracts to meet the legislation's spending provisions.

GSA operates a number of government-wide contracts, including the Multiple Award Schedule and the newly awarded Alliant Small Business contracts, used by agencies to shorten the time required to award competitive contracts. Spending on GSA's contracts has been flat over the past several years as agencies have shifted their spending to their own vehicles. However, due to the sheer magnitude of money appropriated to agencies coupled with the spending provisions which challenge agencies to have projects underway in 120 days or less, agency contracting offices will need help.

The Federal Acquisition Service in GSA should see a windfall of business if it plays its cards right. Many of the agencies getting stimulus funds don't have large contracting organizations that can absorb the volume of spending called for in the spending package and they don't have the luxury of time to award a contract using a traditional request for proposal process. Using task order and delivery order based contracts provide agencies the best and fastest way to award contracts yet still satisfy the competitive award provisions in the recovery legislation.

State & Local Too?

Since GSA schedules were opened for use by state and local governments several years ago, their use has been steadily increasing. The volume of spending increased from $248.5 million in 2006 to $521.8 million in 2008. States face a similar challenge to federal agencies and may also lean more heavily on GSA to acquire their products and services more quickly.

Direct Stimulus Dollars to GSA

GSA also received over $5.9 billion in recovery money including:

  • $5.5 billion to the Public Building Service for converting federal buildings to "high performance green buildings"
  • $300 million for the purchase of fuel efficient cars in the federal auto fleet
  • $84 million to play host to the newly established Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board
Implications for Vendors

The reliance on existing contracts provides those vendors with positions on these contracts a tremendous advantage in garnering stimulus dollars. Vendors without a seat on these contracts should look to establish relationships with established vendors and clearly tie their capabilities to how they can satisfy the government's needs relative to the stimulus initiatives.

Where the Stimulus Package Meets Business Opportunities: CBP’s Non-Intrusive Inspection Systems

Many vendors are wondering A). are the opportunities in the stimulus package real, and B). how is GovWin matching up stimulus spending with database opportunities. Well, let me try to use Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) Large Scale Non-Intrusive Inspection Systems opportunity as an example. We are currently tracking the recompete of a $750 Million multiple-award contract which will expire in September 2010. Non-intrusive inspection (NII) has become higher profile at border crossings and ports of entry as it allows DHS to scan baggage, individuals and cargo through scanning and detection rather than physical searching. This is the type of technology which allows efficiency, cost-savings and security to improve simultaneously.

Stimulus Spending Implications

When the stimulus legislation was finalized in the joint committee conference this week, DHS had received additional funding to the tune of $100 Million for NII technology. Having worked on DHS opportunities for about 2 years here, I immediately thought of the CBP NII contract mentioned above. It wasn't a stretch to let vendors know if their organizations are interested in NII technology, they should be aware of the $100 M in the stimulus package. Since it will be at the discretion of CBP officials to delegate this spending, it is hard to know at this point whether this will be a unique contract opportunity or rolled into the NII contract. The Obama administration would like this money to enter the economy as quickly as possible which means, it could be in the hands of a private company through an established contract very quickly. However, he also has been promoting competition and openness/fairness in government contracting so, a market competition while taking longer would be a better way to get the money to the vendor community.

Contract Spending Implications

The other interesting note about this contract is the value vs. the total ceiling value. As of 4QFY08, this contract has obligated almost $200 M of the allowed $750 M ceiling value allowed. Would adding $100 M into this contract really stimulate the economy? I'm not an economist, so I probably shouldn't be speculating. If this money is rolled into this contract, a few of the vendors would win tasks for this technology, hire more workers and record profits (presumably) which they'd pay taxes on. Ultimately, it would take the spending from $200 M to $300 M overnight, but how much difference does that make in the overall economy?

Bottom Line

Ok, enough speculation. The point is, even with that boost and two more years on the contract, it's unlikely that this contract will reach the $750 M ceiling value. When it comes time to evaluate a recompete strategy, CBP will have to decide whether they want to continue the multiple-award, task order structure or move to a more specific type of contract activity. Meaning, CBP might try to identify niche technologies, services-related requirements and/or equipment requirements thus creating a contract or several contracts which target these specific areas more intently. Regardless of what they choose, we can track this requirement because we know that border security and detection systems will remain a hot topic in Congress and some form of business opportunity will materialize as this set of contracts expires.

These are all issues and questions that arose from a conversation between Jason Miller and I while recording GovWin's Opportunity Tracking segment with Federal News Radio. Listen for the segment this Monday, February 23rd on your drive home from work (around 5:30 PM). For more information on this opportunity please visit GovWin Opportunity ID #43656 (log-in required), on the economic stimulus visit GovWin's Economic Stimulus Knowledge Center and remember to listen to Federal News Radio for breaking news and insight.

Economic Stimulus – Agencies and Vendors Off to the Races, But Don’t Forget to Read the Fine Print

With the Economic Stimulus bill (code name ARRA) passed and signed into law, agencies will be off to the races to spend the $787 billion allocated. Yet, before agency leaders had a chance to finish reading the 1,100 pages of the stimulus bill, OMB released another 62 pages of guidance to agencies on how to track and report their spending. And there is promise of more to come from OMB as they proudly point out in the memo that it is the "first installment"!

Many agencies are going to find themselves with a windfall of money to spend, yet there are a lot of strings attached that agencies and vendors alike should be careful to understand before moving too fast.

Between the legislation and OMB's guidance, some of the more significant challenges agencies and vendors will face include:

  • Requirement for Firm Fixed Price – Agencies are required "to the maximum extent possible" to award firm fixed price contracts. Defining a clear scope of work in a 30-120 day window is tough for even the most agile commercial organizations dealing with much smaller and modest requirements. Establishing them for multi-million dollar deals in the federal bureaucracy is a tall order indeed. Vendors and agencies need to tread carefully here to make sure they don't end up on the front page of The Washington Post in 6 months for reasons that are not good for PR.
  • Requirement for Competitive Procedures – Agencies are required to follow competitive procedures "to the maximum extent possible" as well. Has anyone ever seen a federal agency produce an RFP, accept bids and make an award in 120 days? I welcome submissions! In the mean time, agencies should be looking at the money with an eye on channeling their contract requirements through existing task order based vehicles or GSA vehicles. Avoid no-bid contracts at all costs – those already have an edge of impropriety even when there is a strong legal basis for them.
  • Reporting, Reporting, Reporting - Starting March 3, agencies are required to begin providing to OMB Weekly Reports of their progress in spending the stimulus money, including breakdown of funding, major actions taken, and major planned actions. These will be followed by Monthly Financial Reports starting May 8. They also must provide an Agency Recovery Plan and program specific Recovery Plans by May 1. There are countless other feeds, reports, risk management and oversight requirements buried in the guidance as well. This bill is going to produce so much paper, it could be a bailout for the forestry industry in disguise!
  • Accounting System Changes – In order to meet the reporting requirements and to have clear separation of recovery dollars vs. regular appropriations, agencies are required to establish unique accounts and codes for recovery funds.

There is a laundry list of other provisions and instructions that will challenge agencies in their ability to accommodate them yet still spend the money as quickly as intended. Vendors and agencies alike should be deliberate but cautious in accepting and spending these recovery dollars to avoid the negative attention that comes with lack of care in government contracting.

Next Generation 9-1-1 State Initiatives

Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) is the next step in emergency response systems, equipped to handle the increasing number of ways in which individuals communicate. Implementing NG911 across the country in each and every state, county and city will ensure that all means of communications, from text messages to pictures messages to phone calls from IP-based devices, can be received at PSAP locations just as landline calls are received now.

One of the ways in which state and local agencies can save is to implement regional or even statewide NG911 systems. This will reduce costs as well as guarantee that communications have backup systems in case of emergency. While attending the APCO (Association of Public Safety Communication Officials) 2009 Winter Summit, Bob Currier of Intrado spoke of some of these projects and initiatives, which can be reviewed further in the GovWin database.

Some of the major state initiatives being undertaken include one for the state of Michigan , which is expected to be solicited in mid-2010. Another major statewide initiative is taking place in Texas, which is still in the planning and development state. The State of Texas will create a backbone system which will enable each county and city to establish fully functional NG911 systems. In Minnesota, the State is currently in the process of picking a vendor to assist with their state wide NG911 system.

As new technologies emerge, States must be ready and begin their preparations for full NG911 compatibility. While some states may not move towards a statewide system, counties and other council of governments will require vendors to assist with consulting and the development of NG911 plans. As state's increase their connectivity, the country can move towards a safer and more technologically ready country.

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