Wanted: Officials with homeland security skills

Bob Chiaradio decided to leave the FBI last spring when he found himself at the highest level of the federal government's Senior Executive Service. The 43-year-old executive assistant director for administration would not have an opportunity to advance or make more money for another six years, when he became eligible to retire.

Chiaradio talked with former FBI executives about his options and quickly discovered a demand for his knowledge and skills in the private sector. Within a few weeks, Chiaradio focused on a few firms that offered outstanding opportunities. Ultimately, he joined KPMG Consulting Inc. of McLean, Va., as managing director and lead adviser on homeland security.

Leaving the FBI was difficult, he said, but was tempered by the opportunity to continue working in support of homeland security.

"My priority is to rely on my 20-plus years of law enforcement experience to assist our clients in developing solutions to meet the new and ever-changing challenges we are facing," Chiaradio said.

Like Chiaradio, numerous high-ranking officials have left the federal government during the last year to join firms serving the government.

It's not unusual for executives to move freely between the public and private sectors, often several times during a career. But during the past year, contractors have pointedly focused on luring officials from agencies central to homeland security, such as the FBI.

"We had a significant amount of business before Sept. 11 in agencies that will be part of the Department of Homeland Security. We were looking for a senior-level person who would have visibility, relationships and reputation running across all of them," said Dan Johnson, executive vice president of KPMG Consulting's Public Services practice.

In hiring Chiaradio, KPMG Consulting officials departed from their usual model of bringing in entry-level workers and helping them move up in the company.

"In recent years, we have augmented that strategy, hiring a number of retiring civil service and military folks for leadership and focus in areas where we needed them," Johnson said.

Another official who moved to the private sector is Dr. John Parker, now with Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego. Parker, a former Army major general, is an expert in biological defense and medical research. He held a variety of senior-level positions in the Defense Department health system over 37 years. Parker now serves as a senior vice president in SAIC's Enterprise and Health Solutions Sector, where he will lead the company's homeland security work in chemical and biological defense, public health and biosurveillance.

David Tubbs also joined SAIC. A 20-year FBI veteran, Tubbs most recently worked for the state of Utah, overseeing public safety preparations for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. Now he leads SAIC's homeland security work in providing law enforcement and security for state and local governments and at special events.

Former government officials were key contributors to Unisys Corp.'s recent $1 billion contract win with the Transportation Security Administration, under which the company will build and maintain TSA's IT infrastructure, said Greg Baroni, president of the Blue Bell, Pa., firm's Global Public Sector business.

H. Clayton Foushee, for example, previously worked as a chief scientific and technical adviser for the Federal Aviation Administration and most recently was a senior officer at Northwest Airlines Corp. Now Foushee leads Unisys' transportation security practice.

Thomas Conaway, a former Air Force captain, worked on missile defense while serving in the military, then spent 15 years in leadership roles with KPMG LLP and KPMG Consulting's public-sector groups, Baroni said. At Unisys, Conaway serves as managing principal of defense for the Global Public Sector business, where he has a key role in the company's homeland security strategy.

The laws of supply and demand have taken effect as companies compete for high-ranking, experienced executives such as Foushee and Conaway, who understand the markets and the customers they serve and have outstanding track records in running enterprises, Baroni said.

"Even without the events of Sept. 11, we would find competition for these best resources. Following the events of Sept. 11, we are finding intense, keener competition for them," he said.

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