Small Contractor | Executive of the Year: Doug Wagoner

"Every employee has a much bigger impact on the company's success. People work together, and it's easier getting everyone moving in the same direction."

Doug Wagoner, Defense Systems Analysts Inc.

Zaid Hamid

Doug Wagoner began his career in finance as a numbers guy. But after two years as the chief financial officer at the Mexican subsidiary of EDS Corp., company leaders asked him to join the business development team at the government unit in Herndon, Va.

"I thought they were nuts," Wagoner said. "Finance people and business development people are totally different types of people."

But they persuaded him to give business development a try. If he didn't like it, he could return to the financial management track. That was 10 years ago. Wagoner never looked back.

"I loved the customer, and I found the problems of government very interesting," Wagoner said. He worked with the Defense Information Systems Agency and other defense organizations, "and I had patient bosses who helped me learn that side of the business."

Wagoner, now senior vice president and general manager at Defense Systems Analysts Inc. of Trevose, Pa., learned his lessons well. In recognition of his contributions to his company and community, Wagoner was named Small Contractor Executive of the Year at the 2005 Greater Washington Government Contractor Awards.

He came to DSA in 2001 from ChoicePoint Inc., an identification technology company where he started its public sector practice. Employee-owed DSA specializes in information security, messaging, system engineering and program consulting. About 80 percent of its employees are former military personnel.

Wagoner directs the civilian, command and control, and intelligence business for DSA. The company has thrived since his arrival. In 2001, DSA's annual revenue was about $14 million. This year it will be just under $40 million, Wagoner said. About 175 of the company's 220 employees are in Wagoner's division.

During the past year, Wagoner was key in spurring legislation to streamline the federal security clearance process. Delays in approving security clearances have hampered contractors' ability to bid on projects and perform critical defense, homeland security and intelligence work.

As chairman of an Information Technology Association of America task force, Wagoner built a broad-based industry coalition that pressed for changes in the security clearance process. The coalition's efforts resulted in a provision in the 9/11 Commission Report Implementation Act of 2004 that adopted many of industry's recommended reforms, such as creating a comprehensive database of security clearances.

In October, Wagoner attended a White House meeting that included Clay Johnson, deputy director of management for the Office of Management and Budget, and Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee. At that meeting, Wagoner said Johnson told industry and government officials that the Bush administration supported the legislation and had developed a plan to reduce the security clearance backlog.

"Johnson made clear that this is a priority for the administration," said Wagoner.

Although he enjoyed working for large companies, working for a small business is more rewarding, Wagoner said. "Every employee has a much bigger impact on the company's success," he said.
"People work together, and it's easier getting everyone moving in the same direction."

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