An old hand charts a new course

Carleton Jones prepares for a return to federal contracting

Carleton Jones spent 3 1⁄2 years in the Navy and
almost 20 years practicing government contracting
law before mergers and acquisitions
changed the course of his career.
He left law firm Shaw Pittman Potts and
Trowbridge in Washington in 1992 to become
senior vice president, general counsel and secretary
of Sysorex Information Systems Co., a
former client. Within months, he was named
president.

The sale of Sysorex to Vanstar Corp. in 1997
was the first of several mergers and acquisitions
that eventually led to Jones being named president
of Multimax Inc., a
government services provider,
in September 2001.

When information
technology contractor
Netco Government Services
acquired Multimax
in June 2006, Jones
became chief executive officer of the combined
company. Last year, Harris Corp. bought the
firm for $400 million.

"That's when I left the scene," Jones said.
The 10 months since stepping down have
been a period of pleasant calm, Jones said. "I
basically worked either in the military or in a
legal practice or in companies in the 40 years
since I graduated from law school. So it was
nice to take a break."

During that break, Jones and his wife
attended their son's wedding in Colorado last
summer, vacationed on
Nantucket Island and
returned to Colorado
for Christmas. And he
has worked to improve
his tennis game. "I've
also been concentrating on getting back into
shape physically, which takes a while. So [the
break] has been good," he said.

Jones has also continued to keep abreast of
the government IT industry. He serves on a
Hewlett-Packard federal advisory council,
which meets four to five times a year with the
company's federal group to give input on developments
in the government IT marketplace. He
also attends events related to federal contracting
and the investment community, sometimes
sitting in on as many as five sessions a week.

"It's hard to be so active and then do nothing,
which is one reason why I've kept up with
things," Jones said. Besides, he added, he still
enjoys interacting with industry executives
and government officials. That's why he has
maintained his participation in the Industry
Advisory Council and the Professional
Services Council.

Jones said he believes this is a critical time
for contractors, citing Congress' increased
oversight and scrutiny of the industry as an
example. "We are at a crossroads," he said,
"with a new administration [in 2009], perhaps
a different party controlling both the White
House and both sides of Capitol Hill. So we've
got to continue to do as good a job as we can."

Perhaps it is that challenge that has kept
Jones from full-time retirement. "I expect in the next couple of months to get back in the
industry in some capacity," he said. "I'm sure
before the end of the year I'll be doing something
again."

Most likely he would not return as a company
president or chief executive, although he
wouldn't rule it out.

"I wouldn't want to say no to anything. This
is a very important, critical industry," Jones
said. "The work is very important. The government,
I think, is increasingly dependent on
outside contractors as the workforce is
reduced and the technology continues to get
more complicated."

Jones said he expects his more active participation
will be as a board member or adviser
to one or more federal IT companies. "It's a
hyper-competitive market segment," he said,
"and I think that there would be a couple of
companies that could benefit from my experience
over a number of years on a part-time,
counseling kind of basis."

Jones recently agreed to be vice chairman of
the Kidney Foundation's annual ball, scheduled
for November. "It's a great cause. It's also
a big federal IT industry event. Many of the
most prominent companies are involved in
planning and running the event," he said.

But wherever Jones lands, he insists that
any future employment will not include a
return to practicing law. "It's a great background
for business or for almost anything
else," he said. "But I've been away from it for
quite a while, and I have no desire to go back
to it."

Meanwhile, Jones will continue to be a volunteer
usher and lay reader at the Washington
National Cathedral, which he has done for
many years. He has also served a two-year
term as chairman of the cathedral's volunteer
council, overseeing a membership of 1,200
church volunteers.

Jones is also devoting some of his free time
to hitting the books, studying the fundamentals
of Christianity at the cathedral on Tuesday
evenings. "It's something I never had time to
do, and it's of interest to me," he said.

The former Navy Supply Corps officer is
also taking classes in maritime navigation so
he can enjoy the small trawler he bought
recently and docks in Annapolis, Md.

David Hubler (dhubler@1105govinfo.com) is an
associate editor at Washington Technology.

About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

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