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January 7, 2009
Jones Lang LaSalle
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Yep, we're going where others haven't tread: Not just naming a top 50, but in order, over the next five issues. We know new officials are about to be named, and power will be shuffled, but that's the time to benchmark where people stand and make provocative guesses about the future. No, our rankings aren't based on objective metrics like revenue or longevity. They're more like Vanity Fair would do, a snapshot of influence and buzz: What do our tech readers think when these individuals enter a room? (We surveyed a lot of you to find out.) And if you still don't like the list, there's always next year.


41. Steve Kelman, Professor of Public Management, JFK School. Is Steve the next Clay Johnson, aka Deputy Director of OMB for Management? The former Clinton procurement tsar, longtime GTSI board member, and quotable media guru on the policymaking process, may be based at Littauer Hall in Cambridge but is a frequent and enduring presence in Washington; indeed, he's probably the last OFPP administrator most of you remember.


42. Ed Bersoff, CEO, ATS Corp. The NYU PhD could be called the Dean of current government contractors, not just a scholar, but an entrepreneur who knows how to build companies and was present virtually at the creation of Beltway tech. The onetime math professor and president of CTEC founded BTG in '82, took it public in '94, grew it to $588 million in revenue, and sold it to Titan in '01 for $140 million. Sure, he's got the usual challenges with his new SPAC in finding targets to acquire within fixed deadlines, but he doesn't rise at 4:30 each morning to get on his bike and treadmill because he avoids hard work.


43. Bill Hoover, CEO of American Systems. The Navy and Vietnam vet has always had a knack for helping government solve problems, dating from his own military experience, which even inspired some of his company's projects, like sonar that detects small ships approaching destroyers. But Bill's not just a sailor in a boardroom; he's got 25 years in the federal IT space as former COO of Dynamics Research Corp and CEO at FutureNext Consulting.


44. Bahman Atefi, CEO, and Stacy Mendler, COO, Alion Science.These former SAIC honchos now run just about the fastest growing mid-sized federal IT services firm around, growing revenues in the past several years several-fold so that a billion dollars is in sight. And doing it with an ESOP structure and from its humble roots as a non-profit research lab.


45. Leslie Steele, Chairman, IAC; Stan Soloway, CEO, Professional Services Council; Kent Schneider, CEO, AFCEA International. IAC has an extra dimension compared to other industry groups because it's formally paired with a government entity (American Council on Technology); just go to their ELC leadership event in Williamsburg (formerly Hershey) to see how they hang. Leslie, founder of a small IT business, cares deeply about the partnership. Kent, the former head of NGIT's Defense Group who sits atop another leading organization for bringing together contractors and government, was specially recruited by new chair Duane Andrews, and it only enhances the organization's stature to have someone so senior heading it. Stan, a former deputy undersecretary for acquisition reform under Bill Cohen at DoD, is considered one of the real forces for procurement standards that are fair and efficient for all parties. Is this the next GSA Administrator?


46.  Ted Davies, President, Unisys Federal Systems. Ted came to Unisys five years ago when the Blue Bell, Pennsylvania-based giant was busy switching from hardware to services, a challenge that excited the student who himself once switched from engineering to business. He took over the top federal seat from Greg Baroni in October and will try to engineer new success with DOJ, HHS and USDA, some of his strong suits when heading Unisys' Civilian Sector. It's been a challenging time as they re-compete the TSA ITMS contract and try to fix relationships, but Unisys corporate has a new CEO who's giving him leeway to make federal an even bigger company engine. 


47. Bobbie Kilberg, president NVTC; Alan Merten, president, George Mason Univ.; and Lloyd Griffiths, Dean, School of Information Technology and Engineering. Although not squarely in the federal sector, these are major figures in Northern Virginia who nurture the professional and social environment for many of the contractors who are. For 10 years Bobbie's run the nation's largest tech organization with 1,100 member firms, where hardly a week goes buy without a wall-to-wall crowd for a panel or networking. Yes, her political ties with Bush 43 dated back to Yale, but she's a pragmatist with close ties now to Mark Warner and all the more fashionable D's. Meanwhile, Alan and Lloyd have transformed Mason into a source of top notch employees and federal IT analysis, and even have their own incubator for tech companies, complete with successful grads and a horde of patents.


48. Brad Antle, CEO, SI International. Brad's the market's big free agent after helping sell his firm to UK integrator Serco. Brad tells us he's going to do a little business consulting while looking for his next big gig, but all eyes will be on the genuinely nice guy to see what splash he makes next. Although low-key, friends who've seen him ski double blacks know he's a long-term player who'll soon be back in the game.


49. Ernst Volgenau, Chairman, SRA; Jack London, Chairman, CACI;  Anne Altman, General Manager, IBM Systems Z Platforms; Mike Daniels, Chairman, GlobalLogic. These are living legends who have exited the workaday grind, but whom we still see around, even if they've become authors, professors, trekkers, or heads of bigger enterprises no longer quite as related to govcon. Ernst has given his name, time, and cash to Mason; Jack's out advocating for the company he helped build, like with a 780-page opus defending his company's involvement in Abu Graihb. A year ago Anne would have been higher on this list, since she led IBM's federal division, but she made the mistake of getting promoted and now heads IBM's Mainframe Platform; but everyone knows she could still have plenty of federal influence in the future. As for Mike, despite all the time he spends traveling, it seems putting him on your board means big bucks are to come. He chaired Apogen's when it sold for $300 million to QinetiQ, Mobile 365's when it sold to Sybase for $417 million, and Network Solutions' when it sold to Verisign for $21 billion. Since he's also chair of the Bisnow advisory board, we are already buying our islands.


50. Happy Retirees. (Well, in a few days.)  Clay Johnson, Deputy Director, OMB; and Karen Evans, Administrator, Office of e-Government and IT, OMB. Best buds with W, Clay worked the President's management agenda to the point most agencies are either green or yellow. A veteran of Frito-Lay, Neiman Marcus, and Wilson Sporting Goods, his legacy was to get agencies thinking more about business missions and bottom line impact in their $75 billion IT spend. As for Karen, who if she weren't leaving would be near the top of this list, the former Energy CIO (before joining the White House in '03) actually accomplished much of what other people just spent time envisioning, like making IPv-6, HSPD-12, and SmartBuy a reality; elevating the importance of transparency and cybersecurity; and balancing the expanded use of tech for citizen services with increasing demands for privacy. And even though she was known for speaking her mind, CIOs throughout the agencies have her to thank for solidifying their influence in government. Now she tells friends she'll be off to read science fiction and play Guitar Hero, and we all wish we could join her.

Apatoff Peters
Cardinal Bank
Pecha Kucha

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