I'm sure you've read a cyberpunk novel before - about how the rich hoard the power and information technology while the poor live off dog food? Where there always seems to be a bold group of heavily armed thugs to fight for the highest bidder, or once in a blue moon - stand up for the little guy?
2045 avoided being like that. Barely.
The signature contracted personnel of the Pre-Event days did carry arms - but it was more because people were out to get them, than for the need to fulfill assassination contracts. ICATs were less "street samurai" and more prohibition era revenuers or Pinkerton Detectives. Independently Contracted Assessment Technician. Sounds like someone to audit taxes or inspect a home for roaches right? Heck, chances are they probably did both of those things. On a really, really, big scale.
I think the idea was more or less established by 2035 - possibly earlier. The wasn't really a single day that the world went down the tubes, more of a series of trends. Deforestation meant new tropical diseases spread faster, crop seasons got all the more unpredictable due to global warming, a disrupted gulf stream meant Europe cooled a good bit despite the desertification of other areas, some big earthquakes and small wars got people migrating... We needed to rethink and redo how people were fed, where they would live, and how to keep them healthy like never before. Comparable to the 70's green revolution, 60's's vaccination programs, 50's atomic power, and post war housing projects, all at once - at least according to some of the more vocal talking heads on the news. Not everywhere was so bad, but where it was, it tended to be terrible.
Good news - nano vaccine and super projects like the NEST arcology buildings really did help. Bad news - they were really, really expensive. With that much money being thrown around, the opportunities for graft, extortion, human trafficking, illicit knock-offs and other ills were simply staggering. No one government could truly focus on it, nor have total trust in its agents, or cut through international red tape.
ICATs were bounty hunters, inspectors, accountants, and spies. They were also incredibly well paid and compensated to lessen the incentive to work for the other side. Some of the top level ones even got a percentage of what they were helping - a decimal point, five zeros and a one - but when your looking at a national GDP scale budget, that is a pretty penny. The danger often matched the reward though. Doctors sent into Ebola outbreak zones to make sure no one was selling fake cures or trying to weapon the disease would be an example of a safe assignment! For accountants, the death toll was staggering.
Don't get me wrong, there were other people on the fringes, and there were major projects achieved with minimal amounts of law breaking. Possibly even the majority of them. But if you wanted a life like a movie character, signing up to be a government bonded electrician for refugee camps would give you more excitement than the bomb squad.