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After September 11, the government asked the private sector to suggest new research, products, and technology to combat terrorism. Hundreds, if not thousands, of companies re-sponded by pitching their wares and services. But they’ve found that they don’t always know where they should address their appeals. With Congress and the administration still wrangling over the structure of a new, Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security, there remains no central target for lobbyists or their clients. For a company with a new security camera or a chemical weapons detector, the list of potential government offices to lobby is nearly endless, from the U.S. Coast Guard to the U.S. Department of Defense to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Would-be contractors have also discovered that homeland security largesse is not as bountiful as they imagined. “A lot of people are trying to find this mythical money,” says defense lobbyist Michael Herson, president of American Defense International. “Nobody knows how much is out there, where it went, and who is responsible for it.” After last fall’s attacks, the Department of Defense received about 12,500 responses to its request for new technology to battle terrorism. And with the appropriations process in full swing and the new homeland security department on the horizon, the pace has kept up. “Every little widget maker has been trying to shop their wares in town,” says Glenn LeMunyon, a lobbyist at D.C.’s Tate-LeMunyon. “It’s tough to cut through that.” The lack of a central buyer has only compounded the difficulties. Tom Ridge, the current director of homeland security, would seem to be an obvious target for pitches, and his office has met with representatives from more than 500 businesses. Getting a sit-down with Ridge is not a top priority for many lobbyists, however, because his agency doesn’t have any money to dole out. “Clients hear about Ridge and this new department, and they say, ‘We have to meet Ridge,’” says Barry Rhoads, CEO of Rhoads/ Weber Shandwick Government Relations in Washington. “But that may not be the soundest [approach].” Instead, lobbyists are focusing on congressional appropriators and Cabinet agencies that have sizable budgets and government contracts to award. President Bush’s budget for the fiscal year that begins October 1 calls for $37.7 billion to be spent on homeland security-on everything from new personnel to new technology. Agencies with dollars and contracts to give out include the Department of Defense, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the U.S. Customs Service. Some companies have already figured out how to tap into the funding pipeline. But for the most part, lobbyists say, those businesses already have government deals and are veteran players in the appropriations game. For other companies, success hasn’t come so easily. Of the thousands of proposals that the government received after 9/11, only a few were rewarded with actual contracts. Lobbyists say that some officials at agencies and divisions slated to become part of the homeland security department are reluctant to lock in expensive, long-term product buys until they know who their new boss will be. In some cases, the executive branch has asked those agencies to go slowly. The Office of Management and Budget in July declared a freeze on any information technology purchases by the agencies slated to move to the homeland security department, to prevent overlaps or contradictions in computer systems. But lobbyists say that homeland security will still be a lucrative field for many companies, though it may take some time to develop. “We are advising our clients, if you want to work effectively in Washington, you have to view it as a long-term process,” says H. Stewart Van Scoyoc, the head of a self-named lobbying firm in D.C. “You don’t just come in and come out. You have to be long-term, and you have to focus on both Congress and the administrative agencies.”

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