Stan Soloway likes to talk about the whole of government, and how that special combination of government, contractors, constituents, and other stakeholders need to come together if we are going to solve some of the complex and pressing problems we face as a nation.
Over the years, he has written a column for Washington Technology, and this is a theme he has returned to over and over again. His organization, the Professional Services Council, often advocates the idea that government functions better when all parties involved communicate, when data is used to support policy positions and when serving the greater good is the goal.
He struck that theme when accepting his Industry Executive of the Year award at the GCN Awards Gala last night. His was the first award, and his message was that “while the environment we all work in today kind of sucks,” there is still an opportunity for government and industry to do great work together.
Daniel Werfel, acting commissioner of the IRS, won the Government Executive of the Year award, and Robert Childs, chancellor of the National Defense University, won the Hall of Fame award.
They also echoed Soloway’s comments about the great need today for government and the private sector to collaborate.
The tone of the night was positive, but also marked by the realization that there are challenges in today’s market. There is distrust and misunderstandings between government and the private sector.
As a tablemate said to me last night, the acquisition and procurement system is broken.
Which is why recognizing people like Soloway, Werfel and Childs is important.
Here are links to profiles of each:
How NDU’s Child’s gave iCollege a global scope
Werfel championed technology’s problem-solving power
PSC’s Soloway drove acquisition reform
Of the three, I know Soloway the best. He’s been a regular columnist for over 10 years, and we’ve had plenty of opportunities to talk about the market, and I’ve relied on him to tell me when I’m headed in the wrong direction.
And if you ever have the chance to just sit with him, you’ll hear some great stories, and you’ll learn quickly how important his family is to him. His wife and two of his three daughters attended the dinner, and I think he was as proud of that as anything else.
After the dinner, I saw Soloway surrounded by a group of people, mostly his staff from the Professional Services Council. They were laughing and joking. They were happy for their boss, and not afraid to bust his chops a little bit. That says something about the kind of person he is.
It’s also a reminder of how much the government IT and professional services industry is a people business, and that communication and collaboration are critical to success.
And that’s the biggest challenge we face today; it seems whether it is between the political parties or between agencies and contractors, the default setting seems to be distrust and conflict.
We need more voices like Soloway’s and Werfel’s and Childs’, who advocate for transparency and collaboration. Without heeding their call, we’ll likely never break out of the contentious cycle we are in today.
Posted on Nov 20, 2013 at 9:25 AM0 comments
I’ve been hearing for months that, with shrinking budgets, there is overcapacity in the government services portion of the market, and Lockheed Martin’s announcement today about closing facilities and cutting 4,000 employees pretty much proves it.
The layoffs and closings affect four of the company’s sectors, including Information Systems and Global Solutions, which will lose 600 people with the closing of its Goodyear, Ariz., facility.
Work being done in Goodyear is primarily command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance work and development of the synthetic-aperture radar technology.
By early 2015, the programs in Goodyear will be moved to Denver and Valley Forge, Pa.
Lockheed’s Space Systems will suffer the biggest hit with 1,250 employees losing their jobs. The company’s Newtown, Pa., space will close by early 2015, with commercial and military satellite work moving to Denver. About 350 jobs will be added in Denver either through relocations or new hires.
In Sunnyvale, Calif., Space Systems will lose 200 workers as operations are consolidated and four buildings are closed.
Mission Systems and Training will lose 500 workers with the closing of most of the Akron, Ohio, facility. Lockheed is keeping the Akron Air Dock operations open.
Finally, the Missiles and Fire Control sector will close its Horizon City, Texas, operations and move the Army Tactical Missile System work to a facility in Camden, Ark. Eleven jobs will be lost.
The company expects to eliminate another 2,000 positions through other ongoing efficiency moves.
“I regret these actions will adversely impact some of our colleagues who have made tremendous contributions to our corporation, their communities and our country,” Lockheed CEO Marillyn Hewson said in a memo to employees. Since 2008, Lockheed has reduced its headcount from 146,000 to 116,000.
Lockheed, of course, isn’t alone in making these tough decisions, but at its size, even a 1 percent reduction in force impacts thousands of people.
The moves are emblematic of the drastic changes the market is going through, and will continue to go through for the next 18 months to two years, especially with the uncertainty around budgets.
“It’s another indication of how companies are streamlining and reducing their cost structures to adjust to the fiscal realities,” said Stan Soloway, president of the Professional Services Council. “The question is and will remain just how deep they can cut without losing critical capability.”
That’s the scary part because while budgets are cut and companies cut positions, the pace of the mission doesn’t go down. If anything, the tempo of missions continues to increase. Just look at our ongoing response to the typhoon in the Philippines.
The frustrating thing is that until Congress and the White House get their act together and establish a stable, predictable budget process, we’ll continue to see more contraction in the market place.
Unfortunately, Lockheed’s actions today aren’t the end of the process; there is going to be more pain across the market.
Posted on Nov 14, 2013 at 1:19 PM2 comments
Anthony Jimenez is fighting back against a series of Washington Post articles that have questioned his ethics and the business practices of his company, MicroTech.
One of the claims in the Post articles by Robert O’Harrow Jr. is that MicroTech misrepresented itself when it won a small business contract with the Veterans Affairs in 2006.
Jimenez disputes the authenticity of some of the documents O’Harrow includes with his article; O’Harrow claims one document is a cover sheet for the VA award to MicroTech.
However, Jimenez told me that he’s never seen that document, and it is not a cover sheet. It is not the correct form, and it was not signed by VA or by MicroTech officials.
In an email he sent me, Jimenez included the actual cover sheet and the request for quotes for the contract that O’Harrow is using as a centerpiece for his article. Jimenez is adamant that O’Harrow mischaracterized the contract as a small-business contract.
O’Harrow might be comparing apples and oranges [my words, not Jimenez’s] because VA counts the contract as a small business contract.
But the contract was competed as a full and open contract, so from Jimenez’s perspective, it was not a small business contract. But it’s OK for VA to claim the contract as a small business contract because MicroTech qualifies as a small business.
That, however, has nothing to do with any representations made by Jimenez and MicroTech because they won the contract in a full and open competition.
The Post article also makes a big deal about how 90 percent of the revenue is flowed through MicroTech to its partner, a reseller of Microsoft products. That’s not unusual, though, because it’s a contract for software. MicroTech doesn’t write software; they facilitate the purchase of the software by VA.
It’s a classic reseller arrangement. MicroTech has the relationship with the customer and the product, and revenue simply passes through the company.
O’Harrow also goes after a company called OBXTek, which was No. 1 on Washington Technology’s 2013 Fast 50, because MicroTech sold a small business contract to OBXTek that MicroTech had grown too large to keep.
Jimenez’s son and a former employee are owners of the company, but I’m not sure why that’s wrong.
Would it have been better for MicroTech to close down the contract and lay off the people who were working on it? Instead, it sold the contract to OBXTek, which in turned hired several MicroTech employees to continue support the contract.
To repeat what I wrote yesterday, I’m perplexed by the effort the Post has put into this story to paint Jimenez and MicroTech as bad guys, or worse--cheats and criminals.
There are legitimate policy questions that surround small business procurement practices, but that debate is poorly served by stories that come across as personal attacks.
The comments to my first blog on these series have been mixed, with some supporting Jimenez and others being very critical.
My favorite is one person who obviously doesn’t like the company or Jimenez.
The commenter wrote that he or she would never recommend MicroTech’s work, but “they didn’t break a single law, but the Post article implies they did and that is disgusting and bogus.”
In a way, that commenter sums up my feelings; by making this investigation all about MicroTech, the opportunity to foster a discussion about small business policies is lost.
Posted on Nov 14, 2013 at 12:40 PM9 comments