The government decided yesterday to award the job of building security telecommunications and surveillance systems for the Athens Olympics to a consortium led by US-based research and engineering company Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). The Government Committee on Foreign Policy and Defense, comprising several ministers, decided to award the SAIC consortium the job, after convincing it to limit the bill for setting up the systems and training Greek security forces to 254.9 million euros, said Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who is in charge of Olympics preparations. «Given the fact that negotiations with the bidder began at 317.9 million euros, a significant discount was achieved, which not only covers (system) use during the Olympics but also a very significant period following 2004,» Venizelos told reporters. The government had initially hoped to bring the bill down to 270 million euros. The final contract was supposed to have been signed by the end of last year, at the latest. The delay was due to the government’s efforts to lower the price, combined with intense diplomatic pressure to favor one of the two remaining bidders. It was the main factor that led International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge to severely reprimand the government and the Games organizers last month. SAIC and the rival consortium, led by US-French joint venture Thales Raytheon Systems (TRS), fought hard for the contract, engaging in public accusations and backstage pressure to the very end. SAIC, founded in 1969, was involved in the restoration of US government communications following the September 11 terrorist attacks and had a role in providing security at the Salt Lake Winter Olympics.