BOOZ ALLEN ETC and the Silver Line
In a possible sign of the times, Corporate Counsel reports that references to cyber-security in SEC filings have gone up in the past year. Citing a white paper by the business intelligence firm Intelligicize, the article also reports that cybersecurity is referred to as a risk factor more by telecommunications companies than by any other kind of company, followed by computer and online services. References to antibribery measures also have increased in SEC filings. The SEC, meanwhile, is doing its bit to encourage whistleblowers against corporate fraud and abuses by giving a financial incentive, the annual Dodd-Frank whistleblower award; this year, three awardees will receive 5 percent each of $7.5 million.
The recent case of 29-year-old Edward Snowden, employed by a major government contractor, who wielded cyber intrusions on a global scale and then revealed them, is a reminder that there are, of course, other problems besides fraud. Particularly in the realm of cybersecurity, what can go wrong will go wrong. When major contractors such as Booz Allen become Too Big to Expose, get to call the shots, and get hired to police their own work, what can go wrong will get ludicrous.
The company that hired Snowden for government work, paid for with federal tax dollars, is nothing loath to proclaim its ties with government. Under the heading “Who [sic] We Serve,” the company touts–along with its service to “foreign military programs of U.S. allies”–its services to the federal government, civilian and military, and to private firms in health, energy and financial services. (Telecommunications are not itemized in this short summary, although they have been referenced elsewhere.) Mentioning more specifically the Intelligence Community, the company boasts that “We serve the Director of National Intelligence, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, National Intelligence and Civil Agencies, and Military Intelligence.”
It also serves all branches of the armed forces:
Army: “Booz Allen supports the Army, Army Reserves, and Army National Guard across the entire scope of responsibilities.”
Navy: “We assist Navy organizations from the Office of the Secretary of the Navy and Chief of Naval Operations to the Navy operating commands and systems commands.”
Air Force: “Serving Air Force headquarters and every major command, we work in areas as diverse as special operations, aircraft certification and accreditation, airborne networks, and next-generation C4ISR systems—always with an eye for maximizing Air Force investments.”
“In a fast-changing world of new threats and mission requirements, we help the Air Force be ready for what’s next.”
Marines: “We also assist organizations throughout the Marine Corps, including Marine Corps Headquarters, Combat Development Command, Training and Education Command, Special Operations Command, and Systems Command.”
Under civilian agencies, “The professionals at Booz Allen help civilian government agencies tackle their most complex challenges, such as reforming financial regulatory oversight, evolving our healthcare system, improving information sharing and mission integration among law enforcement organizations, strengthening cybersecurity, improving energy efficiency, supporting green building initiatives, and implementing our nation’s Next Generation Air Transportation System.”
Again, the point of these reminders is not that the Booz Allen and Snowden flap is just business as usual. These are fertile fields for improvement. The less qualified echelons in the defense and security contracting world should never have become effectively ensconced in government in the first place. These are not the types who sit alone and quiet for a meditative twenty minutes at night, thinking, Now, what did I do that I could have done better? And How can we improve on this for next time?
Booz Allen, to focus on the current name in the news, has not been trolling for customers only in the federal government. As the Project for Government Oversight among others reminds, the company is a major contractor at all levels of government–federal, state, local. While the company’s revenue and personnel numbers are down somewhat, it is still riding high–in related news, its CEO got a 47 percent pay hike in the most recent year–and its executives serve on the boards of foundations and non-profits all over Washington.
Despite the company’s famous connectedness, I was struck by the extent to which the new Silver Line track in D.C.’s expanding Metrorail system will benefit Booz Allen. The northern Virginia company’s headquarters are at 8283 Greensboro Drive, where it leases from an REIT through 2016. The location, as noted by one eagle-eye real estate observer, “is less than 500 feet from the future Tyson’s Central 7 Metrorail station, due for completion in 2013.” Tyson’s 7, otherwise known as the Greensboro station on the D.C. Metro line, is part of Fairfax County’s Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project. The station, which will connect Tysons Corner and vicinity to Dulles Airport as well as to the rest of metro D.C., is slated to open by the end of 2013. I called Metro (MWATA) to find out whether a more exact timetable is available, but was told by the media office am told to call the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA). Metro says, “They have not given over that project to us,” and “we can’t comment on deadlines,” time frame, etc. Metro will be operating the station, as with the rest of the Silver Line. MWAA’s 16-member board, including Chairman and Vice Chairman, includes seven Virginia representatives, appointed by Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (after a contentious restructuring), three members appointed by the governor of Maryland, four by the mayor of D.C., and two by the White House. Ongoing controversies include continuing Virginia push-back against hiring union members to perform work on the Silver Line or on the Dulles Corridor Project in any way.
Members of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority board include former GOP candidate for state senate in Virginia Caren Dewitt Merrick, also a member of the non-profit Women in Technology (WIT). Women in Technology hosted one of its ‘Meet the Company’ events last week in Vienna, Va. The company featured was Booz Allen Hamilton. Merrick’s husband, Philip Merrick, is chairman and co-founder of VisualCV, Inc. His former COO at VisualCV was Doug Meadows, now a senior associate at Booz Allen Hamilton. Another of MWAA’s Virginia appointees is Bruce A. Gates, a senior vice president at Altria Group, corporate parent of giant cigarette company Philip Morris. Booz Allen’s connections with Altria are too extensive to list, counting personnel, donations, corporate sponsorships and board memberships; both Booz Allen and Altria are also involved in the Aspen Institute among numerous similar networks. The Greensboro drive property where Booz Allen is located is owned by the Washington Real Estate Investment Trust (WRIT), which does its own extensive corporate shoulder-rubbing and which stands to benefit on its real estate investment once Booz Allen’s massive expansion and improvements are completed.
The benefits to Booz Allen from Metrorail’s expansion are too obvious to need belaboring. Company employees can take Metro to work–obviously a good thing in itself–and company clients can visit more easily and quickly flying in via Dulles Airport, while company personnel can also leave ditto. (A future Edward Snowden will have the Silver Line for quick get-away.) The enhanced property values on which the company sits carry their own cachet. Meanwhile, the company will also have the benefit of additional convenience for the mammoth Tysons development area, and for D.C. and its Maryland suburbs. Construction of the Silver Line, and the Dulles Corridor Project itself, were issues of heated contention in Virginia for years. Ironically, many if not most of their political opponents were opposed on pro-‘business’ and pro-‘private enterprise’ grounds.