"This software that really could help the country and it's already waiting in the wings," said Frank Bishop, general manager of Siebel's public sector division. "We don't think building a system that takes two or three years to complete is the solution right now."
In an effort to garner governmental attention, the product was introduced during a campaign stop by California gubernatorial candidate Richard Riordan, a Republican supported by Siebel's chief executive, Tom Siebel. Also, one of Siebel's directors, former Montana governor Marc Racicot, has already pitched the anti-terrorist system to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. However, Ridge's office doesn't discuss private meetings or conversations, said White House spokesman Ken Lisaius.
Laws prohibiting some government agencies from sharing information with others represent just one of several obstacles facing Siebel's homeland security software. For instance, The Internal Revenue Service is prohibited from providing the FBI with taxpayer information without a court order. "We can always adjust our software," Bishop said. "There is no reason to wait for the perfect world to get this started."
"Developing anti-terrorist software makes good business sense for Siebel and its rivals because the government market offers a potential antidote to a slowdown in the corporate sector," said industry analyst Brent Thill of Credit Suisse First Boston.
Siebel competitor, Oracle Corp., has already offered to provide software for a national identification card and PeopleSoft Inc., another CRM company, is expecting more demand from authorities trying to do a better job identifying terrorist threats. "No company wants to look opportunistic in this situation, but we want to try to do whatever we can to help," said Kimberley Williams, PeopleSoft's director of marketing.