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Berteau brings passion for public service to PSC post

David Berteau doesn’t start as the new CEO of the Professional Services Council for another four weeks, so it is too early to get specifics on how the organization may change or what specific priorities he’ll bring.

And he might not be looking to make a lot of changes to start with because, to hear him describe it, what PSC has been doing for the last decade or more is exactly what Berteau wants to do.

“They are working on issues I’ve worked on my entire professional career,” he said. This includes various positions at the Defense Department, work as an executive at SAIC, and consulting and advocacy work at Clark and Weinstock.

He’s also done analytical work related to acquisition and government management at the think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies as well as academic work at the University of Texas at Austin, Georgetown University, and Syracuse University.

“I’ve wrestled with these issues from every conceivable angle,” he said. “The critical question is how does the government do the optimal job of organizing itself to know what it needs and then issue and award contract to get that done.”

On the contractor side, it is a matter of creating and fostering a process that gives them the best chance to win and perform.

“I’ve worked on these issues my entire life and this is the perfect place do that work from,” he said. “And this job doesn’t come open very often, so it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Berteau is replacing Stan Soloway, who led PSC for 15 years.

Berteau has been working on various sides of the government market since 1981, when he first went to work at the Defense Department, but he traces his dedication to the public sector to his childhood on the family strawberry farm in Louisiana.

“I was raised in a family that believed citizens have responsibilities, including paying attention to what is going on and participating,” he said. “[My career] is an outgrowth of how my mom and dad raised me.”

Public service is important to Berteau, and he points with pride to his college alma mater, Tulane University, in Louisiana. The campus was devastated by Hurricane Katrina and had to close for a semester.

“When it reopened, the only way it was able to attract students to come back was to have a much bigger commitment to and requirement for public service as a part of their education,” he said. “Tulane has thrived under that framework.”

Berteau is bringing that passion for public service to PSC.

“PSC has been around a long time, and under Stan, it expanded in terms of magnitude and reach. It became a premier organization. There is a top notch team here,” he said.

The organization has many top-flight qualities. It is relevant and important to both the government and its member companies, but unlike many trade associations, PSC has an analytical side that was very attractive to Berteau.

“This is a trade association that really pays attention to the data and the trends overtime,” he said.

This includes the annual Vision market research that the group does, but also in-house capabilities for parsing and analyzing government data such as the Federal Procurement Data System.

“This isn’t optics. There is real substance here,” he said.

For the first two years, Berteau will face some restrictions in his ability to lobby at the Defense Department because of ethics regulations. The government prohibits people who leave agency from returning to lobby at that agency for two years.

“These limits are serious, and a matter of law and an important public policy,” he said. “But I’ve inherited a great team here.”

His role will be to make sure the framework and content of lobbying efforts is consistent with PSC’s mission. “It doesn’t need to be me to go to a particular meeting with a particular person for us to have an impact,” he said.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Mar 01, 2016 at 12:46 PM


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