The Military-Industrial Complex Is Alive and Well and Living in Fremont 

Think the East Bay is the center of dissent? There's more to it than that.

While some East Bay residents spent the year organizing against the War On Terrorism, the tech sector harkened back to its Cold War-era roots. With billions of dollars in increased spending earmarked by the Bush administration for the departments of Defense and Homeland Security, many East Bay tech companies and research institutions formed contractual partnerships this year with the US military and the newly formed Department of Homeland Security. Here's a glimpse into how some East Bay institutions are profiting from the war economy.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, Livermore
Following a decade in which its efforts have centered on nuclear stockpile "stewardship," this year the lab oversaw a flurry of activity related to the ongoing War on Terrorism. Lab scientists simulated the effects of a biological or chemical attack on Salt Lake City, Utah, in anticipation of the 2002 Winter Olympics, and developed a portable, hand-held detector for radioactive materials. Two new facilities are in the works to enhance US defense: a supercomputing site to simulate nuclear weapons performance, and a US security-threat-analysis center. The lab also improved anthrax-detection technology and tested the efficacy of new instruments that identify nuclear material in cargo containers.

Sybase, Dublin
This software company secured a contract with the US Navy Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command to improve on the Navy's ID card program, allowing commanding officers to track the movements of their on-deck personnel. Sybase also played a key role in helping financial institutions meet the controversial October PATRIOT Act compliance deadline. As depository financial institutions were required to monitor suspicious, potentially terrorist-related activity, Sybase offered a wide range of solutions making it easier for banks to ensure the true identity of their customers by tracking financial histories and fund origins, monitoring wire activity, and quickly filing Suspicious Activity Reports.

ActivCard, Fremont
ActivCard, a major provider of "identity management," markets remote-access systems and digital identification cards for use in information and facilities management. Caving to pressure from its flag-waving competition, ActivCard decided this November to cut ties with its French headquarters and reincorporate as a purely American corporation. According to a report in the East Bay Business Journal, ActivCard's international associations might have cost it at least one contract with the National Security Administration. With its extensive history of work for the Department of Defense, ActivCard decided to alter its own identity rather than jeopardize its place in this growing market.

Abaxis, Union City
This medical products company sold fifteen of its Piccolo blood chemistry analyzers (suggested retail price: $14,995 per unit) to the US Air Force in July. Altogether, Abaxis filled sixteen orders from the military in one quarter.

InVision Technologies, Newark
InVision specializes in security technology such as airport scanners and explosives detectors. With orders for explosive-detection systems pouring in from the US Department of Security's Transportation Security Administration, the company released an impressive December earnings report. Its $160 million quarterly revenue surpassed earlier projections and, with orders backlogged, the upcoming year looks rosy. InVision also received grants from the Transportation Security Administration and the US Department of Defense. Not surprisingly, InVision announced that it "welcomes the formation of the new Department of Homeland Security."

SCM Microsystems, Fremont
SCM teamed up with Micron PC to improve online security for the Department of Defense. It will be outfitting more than four million Defense Department personnel with electronically enhanced "smart card" ID badges to help guard against unauthorized informational systems access.

Credence Systems Corporation, Fremont
Northrup Grumman Corporation, one of the largest providers of military electronics, collaborated this December with Credence to improve semiconductor testing. Credence's engineering validation test system will debug and analyze the integrity of electronic components in complicated military equipment.

Joint Genome Institute, Walnut Creek
Researchers at this institute, which is operated by the University of California for the US Department of Energy, undertook the gene sequencing of several forms of infectious bacteria to help detect the presence of biological agents in the environment.

PeopleSoft, Pleasanton
PeopleSoft application software was selected this December by the US Navy to consolidate and economize its human resources systems. And the Pleasanton software merchant also is marketing a student-tracking program that will help colleges and universities such as the California State University system comply with new regulations requiring them to monitor and report the activities of foreign students to the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Bay Area Science Infrastructure Consortium
Tech industry heavyweights have been pooling their resources for two and a half years, and are attempting to strong-arm their way into business ventures with the Department of Homeland Security. In November and December, representatives from BASIC members including InVision, Sybase, Cerus, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Network Associates, and Silicon Graphics led a Washington delegation pushing for an instrumental Bay Area role in security-related research efforts. If their lobbying pays off, many local tech giants could receive significant federal funding from the nascent defense boom.


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