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February 4, 2009
Jones Lang LaSalle

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Interior Department Deputy CIO Jerry Williams is kind of like Winston Wolf in Pulp Fiction: He fixes problems quickly and efficiently. We met Jerry at his D.C. office where he tells us after helping SBA and USDA go from an F on the FISMA scorecard to a C+, he's hoping to do the same in his new post.


Jerry, left, with CIO Sanjeev Bhagowalia and CIO Chief of Staff Marietta Allen, started his new job six months ago after working for the DNI to rework financial and business systems. Jerry says he'd like to help Interior become more transparent in the IT services it provides, along with getting rid of stovepipes. "The trick is going to be how to cross-fertilize common things to maximize our capabilities," Jerry says.


Jerry is a numbers guy at heart. He started his career doing financial management at Johnson & Johnson, before going to DoD for the same type of work. He grew up all over the country in a military family (spending time in Hawaii the same time a certain President was growing up there; he doesn't think they crossed paths, but we bet they stood in the same line one time for that famous "shave ice"). When he's not working, you can find the father of two fishing with his own dad and learning the sax. "When I started playing, my wife was like 'Close the door!,' but I'm hopefully getting better," he says.


We resume highlights from our Federal IT panel, already in progress. (You'll recall our all-stars were DoD Deputy CIO Dave Wennergren, Navy CIO Rob Carey, former White House e-gov tsarina Karen Evans, SRA CEO Stan Sloane, and ATS CEO Ed Bersoff. And that our wonderful sponsors were Ernst & Young, Sheppard Mullin law firm, and Kipps DeSanto investment bank.)

Bisnow: Other trends?
Ed: One change is in the federal workforce, because the conventional wisdom says it's aging and there is more opportunity for contractors. But fewer federal employees are retiring [due to the decline of their retirement savings], so that is going to be slower to happen.
Bisnow: And how on the military side?
Dave: The world of big IT systems that have multiple interfaces and complexity that drive them to take years to deploy is not the way business is going to be done. You have to be able to understand what we're already doing, and that is building up the core of enterprise services. So if you're going to have a service-oriented solution, I don't want you to do all the core services yourself. We're looking for people to do little parts, so you'll be seeing fewer huge contracts and more smaller, focused ones.
Rob: One thing I'll say: Kinetic weapons systems rule. IT and C4 or C5 weapons systems don't rule. Just keep that in mind. What I'll also say is, we've got to be leaner and meaner. We know the supplemental appropriations that we have gotten since 9/11 are going away. You start building things from the supplemental, they have tails. They now require operation maintenance support to keep them going, so there is big business in helping us get more efficient.
Bisnow: Advice for contractors?
Karen: The thing is always to find out how to get a market edge, and with the stimulus package coming there are a lot of opportunities for people who can do project management and break spending into small pieces. If you can go into agencies or on the Hill and do those types of things, you will corner the market, because the government wants to show results for this $875 billion.
Bisnow: And trends with industry?
Stan:   In my company we're trying to figure out how to get out of state level work or at least not focus on that. We do $40 million of work for California that comes mostly from federal grants. I'm worried that state problems are going to get worse and the federal government is not going to have another $600 billion of bailout money. My main goal is to generate enough revenue to feed 6,600 employees each week.
Audience: In two years what will social networking in the federal government look like as it relates to contractors?
Karen: It could have a direct impact on procurement, if the rules ever change. Wouldn't it be great if an RFI went out to a collaboration site, it was advertised, and then there was direct discussion between government and industry about how to best get it done? It could get results way faster than the arcane process we have now.
Dave:  Things like wikis mean you can actually create policies and strategies more quickly, but it's also a dialogue with industry that becomes more instantaneous. If I'm looking for people who can speak such and such a language, I can find them much quicker now using tools that weren't available a few years ago.

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