Special Report | Channel leaders: Lesson for success ? 'their goals are your goals'
Mark Blevins, vice president of civilian services, Perot Government Systems
- By Evamarie C. Socha
- Jun 23, 2006
"I saw Perot as a company that could bring its commercial capabilities to help with these federal programs," says Mark Blevins
Mark Blevins knows his ABCs, but not like a teacher or even a student. It's more of a "behind the chalkboard" point of view.
Blevins had been with Affiliated Computer Services Inc.'s federal practice as deputy program manager on common services for borrowers. When that unit was sold to Lockheed Martin Corp., everything went except the Education Department work. Looking for room to grow his career, Blevins considered Perot Systems Inc.
As luck would have it, founder H. Ross Perot had set forth a mandate to get the company more involved in federal education initiatives because of his own belief in solid education. Blevins said it was a natural fit for him.
"I saw Perot as a company that could bring its commercial capabilities to help with these federal programs," said Blevins, now vice president of civilian services for Perot Government Systems. He landed at the company just 15 months ago and since then has helped it carve out a large share of work for itself with the Education Department.
Blevins is program manager on the Education Data Exchange Network Operations and Maintenance contract, or EDEN, a set of K-12 statistical reports gathered from state agencies. He also manages Perot's work on the Enterprise Data Warehouse contract, the agency's first enterprisewide data warehouse for supporting business and funding analysis.
He saw overlap between the two contracts, and came up with the EDFacts Reporting System, one application that gives the Education Department and states access to K-12 performance and grants information. Simple math: Two contracts blended into one equals savings of $500,000 to the Education Department.
Blevins also lead the Web enablement of the Consolidated State Performance Report, a database used by all K-12 program offices to evaluate and report on progress of No Child Left Behind initiatives. One by one, Blevins worked with 52 sovereign entities ? 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico ? a challenge in its own right because the solution had to be flexible enough for use in every state.
While Blevins' work is focused on the Education Department, the best lessons haven't come from a book.
"Most of the things I've learned would be different in a classroom. It's really about listening to a customer," he said. "I require a team on the kickoff meeting to listen to the client and their problems."
"Past performance isn't the only indicator of future success. Too many times, government awards contracts based on price, not on where they were burned two or three years ago," Blevins said. "It's easy to put in good past performance, but tell me the last time you did this job for us. Strive for excellence, that will be rewarded."
And to get those rewards, use simple math: "Listen to the customer, their goals are your goals," he said. Since all contracts are performance-based, contractors have as much incentive as the government to make sure the project succeeds.
"We make money if they meet their goals, we lose if they don't. Make sure the goals are aligned," he said.