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December 29, 2008
Jones Lang LaSalle



Most folks leaving their government jobs these days are political appointees, but Homeland Security Chief Procurement Officer (and careerist) Tom Essig is leaving the old-fashioned way: he’s retiring. We recently met Tom at his Nebraska Ave office where, he tells us, DHS dramatically restructured acquisition management processes in the past nine months. “Our programs weren’t having the success we were looking for, so we went back and looked at everything. We found the majority of the problems were not the product, but program formulation,” Tom says.


Tom says when the agency first launched, it modeled its procurement practices after DoD. “When I got here, we were giving out a lot of contracts to quickly fix problems, but without any real long term planning,” says Tom, who instituted change in the agency’s procurement policy to allow for more patience in decision-making. “We want to be making the right decisions all the time.” He mentioned the agency’s secure border initiative as an example. “Instead of just building fences in the Southwest, we talked to different organizations already involved with protecting borders to make sure what we’re doing is the best for our mission,” Tom says.


Tom jokes he just learned his desk was made of wood, considering it’s always covered with papers. A Brooklyn-native who grew up in Maryland, Tom came to DHS in 2006 as Deputy CPO, before taking his current role. He spent most of his career in different acquisition positions in the Navy, last working for the office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition and the director of the Program Analysis and Business Transformation Division. As for retirement, he says he’s going to take some time off to work around the house and take his son on a graduation trip to Japan this spring before looking for a job on the civilian side.

No. 4!

When Condi Rice, George Bush or Dick Cheney (or any top government and military officials) go to the Middle East, they’re usually accompanied by an interpreter from Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions — an Arlington-based consultancy that was No. 4 on this year’s Inc. 500 list. We recently met CEO Jerry Torres who tells us the 400-person company specializes in diplomatic-level language and advisory services as well as working with US embassies and Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) on rebuilding efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The State Department uses Torres to translate documents sent to Middle Eastern countries, and the DOJ has Torres monitor prisoner conversations in foreign languages. They also delivered the largest-ever Oracle-based Human Resources and Payroll System.


Jerry, shown here with Rebekah Dyer, retired from active duty as a U.S. Army Special Forces soldier. He was an auditor for the Inspector General before becoming a management consultant for a number of Fortune 500 companies, including Merck, until 9/11 when (still a reserve) he returned to service. In 2004, after sustaining combat injuries in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom, Jerry returned to the US to start his company. “We have set procedures and processes that I’ve found work through trial and error; and we find smart, young, energetic people and train them,” says Jerry, who wrote a book on enterprise engineering. Jerry spends his off hours – often with his employees – working on international humanitarian projects.

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Nixon Peabody
Harvest Bank

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