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VA’s Roger Baker picks Agilex for next career chapter

If you’ve spent four years as the CIO of a government agency with a $3.5 billion IT budget, and during that time, you've built a reputation for making some groundbreaking decisions about how you manage that budget, then you’d have plenty of choices among the biggest contractors in the market for your next job

But after leaving Veterans Affairs on March 8, Roger Baker picked Agilex, a six-year-old, 500-person company in Chantilly, Va., as his next stop. He joined the company April 1 as its new chief strategy officer.

On his second day, Baker said he took the job at Agilex for much of the same reason that he went back into government in 2009; he saw an opportunity to transform how government operates.

Roger Baker

Former VA CIO Roger Baker has been named chief strategy officer for Agilex.

Through a variety of initiatives, including the gutsy move of cancelling projects that weren’t delivering results, Baker gained a reputation at VA for leading transformation efforts. So, when he decided to leave VA this year, he wanted to find a way to continue that work of transformation, but from the private sector side.

“In the government services sector, we’ve gotten away from the most important thing, and that is producing results for the customer,” he said. “Can you build a company that is more focused on customer results than on the company’s results?”

He got to know Agilex because of the work the company did on the Chapter 33 project, which delivers education benefits to veterans.

That project is an example of what Baker wants to see expanded – a project that comes in on time and on budget, and delivers results. “That’s a model of what you want to do,” he said.

It was around the concept of delivering results to the customer that he and Agilex had a meeting of the minds, as he described it.

The assumption for a business is that if you focus on customer results, revenue and profits will follow, and Agilex has ambitious growth targets -- $1 billion in revenue by 2020,  said Jay Nussbaum, Agilex co-founder and vice chairman. At the end of 2012, its revenue was $110 million with a 30 percent growth rate.

“We’ll have Roger looking around at technology, customer needs, and being a reliable supplier. Roger brings both the day-to-day and the longer vision,” Nussbaum said.

Baker was quick to point out that the success he had at VA was helped because the agency is one of the few where the CIO has control of the IT budget. He said he’ll be talking to Congress about how a consolidated portfolio for IT management can help agencies reduce their IT costs, and make them more efficient.

He and the rest of the Agilex team also want to be evangelists for the philosophy of "results first" contracting. They are talking about creating an institute that would collect best practices, case studies and discuss with government officials and other contractors how to bring that kind of focus to the market.

The institute is the brainchild of Baker’s and Agilex's chief technology officer, Tim Hoechst.

“It is something we’ve talked about doing, and Roger just brings us to the next step,” Hoechst said.

Baker’s focus for Agilex’s strategy will be built around four areas:

  • Promoting agile development
  • Mobile computing
  • Data analytics
  • IT infrastructure optimization

“If you can pull out just 10 percent of 20 percent of your infrastructure costs, then you can spend that money elsewhere,” Baker said.

Much of the conversation with Baker and the rest of the Agilex team came back to the concept of results, or as Baker said, “Getting to done.”

“How do you achieve the mission, say we are done and move to the next thing?” he said. “That’s not the way things are done in the government services space, so [the Agilex opportunity] really resonated with me.”

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Apr 03, 2013 at 7:24 PM


Reader Comments

Mon, Apr 15, 2013

When is it appropriate for Congress to stop this gross waste of taxpayer dollars ($Billions)?

Thu, Apr 11, 2013

Massive RTLS National Contract Failure: Roger base-lined 'Wi-Fi only' to triangulate RFID tags eliminating from the competition successful RTLS solutions already active in the VA. $550 Million pushed at technology that has no history of delivering. Lessons learned? Huh?

Mon, Apr 8, 2013

EXACTLY. That was just the DOWN payment! PER GAO: The iEHR was initially projected to cost between $4 and $6 billion; however, an estimate in September of 2012 doubled that number, Baker testified. So far, more than a $1 billion has been spent, and VA and DOD officials have touted the new approach as a less-expensive option. HA. Meanwhile the funding for numerous worthy projects has VAPORIZED!

Wed, Apr 3, 2013 Taxmonger

Yes, indeed. What is Roger's success at VA. Interview rather lite--no probes. Other than axing programs that were already proven bad, and putting a few on notice, the overall IT posture declined. And VA is one hurting department, whose decline is accelerated by its sclerotic IT systems and poor contract management

Wed, Apr 3, 2013

The implied criticism of the dedicated contracting workforce in their choice of branding is offensive. Buying a Rolodex of contacts is not a new strategy. Maybe during the waiting period to avoid COI they can start that best practice institute ...oh wait didn't Carnegie Mellon do that?

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