Homeland Security

Congress approved the blueprint creating a Department of Homeland Security this week, marking the largest reorganization of the federal government since the Defense Department was established during World War II. This act of Congress creates a new department by combining 22 government agencies and more than 170,000 employees. Just as the Defense Department is housed in the Pentagon, the Homeland Security Department will need a similar headquarters and organization. That’s where the Manassas and Prince William area may come into play.

While a prospective departmental headquarters is expected to be based in, or close to, the nation’s capital, there will be plenty of needs for related government facilities in the Washington, D.C. area.

Though not directly related to the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI’s decision to move its crime lab and forensic science unit to the FBI Academy grounds at Quantico is a prime example of our area’s value to the federal government. The new facility will bring 700 FBI workers to Quantico in a 500,000 square-foot facility.

A similar situation exists with the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. The government will be shuffling existing agencies and moving segments of other departments to maximize their abilities to function within the new department. This includes agencies such as the Secret Service, Customs Service and the Border Patrol along with other areas of expertise ranging from information technology to emergency response teams. We hope officials in Manassas, Manassas Park, Prince William County and the four towns are keeping abreast of the changes taking place.

Economic development officials have worked hard the past decade marketing our area as a haven for high tech industry. While this is still a targeted industry for the region, officials should prepare to make a pitch for luring government agencies and contractors that will serve the newly created department.

The Manassas-Prince William area is fertile ground for high tech offices and industries. The local road network is a welcome relief to many drivers when compared to other areas of Northern Virginia especially when a reverse commute is involved. Prince William also has a highly educated and skilled work force and excellent public and private schools.

The Department of Homeland Security is needed to provide our country protection in a new century that features threats unimagined decades ago. An effort must be made by our local officials to accommodate the different cogs and gears which will make up our soon-to-be created Department of Homeland Security.

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