Special Report | Channel leaders: Push for efficiency
Douglas Gilbert, director of Energy Department operations, Verizon Federal Network Systems
- By Roseanne Gerin
- Jun 23, 2006
"Our customers have been asking us to find ways to make our operations more efficient ... and to reduce costs," says Douglas Gilbert.
The small iron-ore mining town of Hibbing, Minn., has put itself on the map by producing some of the top leaders in industries from entertainment and sports to the law. It is the hometown of singer and songwriter Bob Dylan, National Basketball Association Hall of Famer Kevin McHale, baseball home-run king Roger Maris and famed attorney Vincent Bugliosi, who prosecuted Charles Manson and wrote of the crimes in the book "Helter Skelter."
The town of about 17,000 people in the northeastern section of the state also is the hometown of Douglas Gilbert. The director of Energy Department operations at Verizon Federal Network Systems oversees the company's group that deliver voice, video and data services at six sites, including the Argonne National Laboratory, Savannah River Site, Sandia National Laboratory and department headquarters in Washington. Verizon FNS is a unit of Verizon Communications Inc.
"Our customers have been asking us to find ways to make our operations more efficient, to make [the customers] more efficient and to reduce costs," said Gilbert, a former Navy officer who directs a staff of 125 people.
Gilbert in 2004 devised a plan to help the Energy Department's operations teams and customers respond to technology changes, such as converged networks, and to budget restraints caused by diversion of funds to the Iraq War and Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts.
At Argonne National Laboratory, for example, Gilbert's group installed an IP telecommunications network. At Savannah River, his group restructured the organization to foster collaboration by minimizing conflicts among team members and stressing operational goals over individual performance. And at Sandia, Gilbert's efforts won Verizon FNS recognition as a Sandia Strategic Supplier, the only large business among 6,000 suppliers recognized for providing outstanding services to the lab's operations. His groups have cut costs by between 25 percent and 40 percent at every Energy Department site where Verizon works, Gilbert said.
This year, the company's Sandia team won the lab's President's Quality Award, which is rarely given to outside contractors. Gilbert's Savannah-FNS team in March was one a few teams selected from 3,140 nominees to win a Verizon Excellence Award.
The payoff for Verizon? The Energy Department renewed four contracts and another was won through an open competition, said Forrest Siburt, a consultant in business development at Verizon FNS.
In the years ahead, as there are more communication advances, incorporating new technologies at Energy Department sites will still be his biggest challenge, Gilbert said.
"The remote and dispersed sites that I'm servicing today are excellent proving grounds to demonstrate the different types of things we can do [with communications technology] and the different types of techniques we can employ to deliver this service in challenging areas," Gilbert said. "I hope to stay with this and see it all come through."