It’s an interesting time to be a CTO in the federal marketplace. As the needs of government clients increase, so does the need for vendors to provide the most robust and cost-effective solutions. That takes innovation — and collaboration. In the spirit of that collaboration, ExecutiveBiz went looking for some of the area’s top CTOs. Hailing from small to mid to large-scale companies, these business and technology innovators offer their tech forecast for the year ahead — and thoughts on where to place your bets along the way.
They call him “the Godfather,” and for good reason. As vice president and chief technology officer of Northrop Grumman Information Systems, Dr. Robert Brammer is the one who calls the shots on investments in many diverse technology areas. In the four years he’s been CTO, Brammer’s investments have paid off, sometimes in life-saving ways. For example, Northrop Grumman is just completing the implementation of a broadband mobile wireless network for New York City. The primary users of this network are the city’s first responders — police, fire, and other emergency services. A few years earlier, Brammer had developed investment plans in highly secure broadband wireless communication technology. “I believed there was a class of customers who would need broadband mobile communications in a highly secured environment,” says Brammer. Those investments later led to a contract with the City of New York to build this broadband mobile network, and Northrop Grumman also has several other broadband mobile network deployments. Another contract, with the Commonwealth of Virginia, also speaks to sound R&D investments. Virginia had more than 90 agencies, each with its own network, when it selected Northrop Grumman as its IT infrastructure outsourcing contractor. Integrating all elements into one enterprise network was aided by several technology investments Brammer had made a few years before.
Brammer’s TECH FORECAST: “Further integration of technology and quality is something that will be important this year, particularly in the current economy” says Brammer. “New technology is developing at a rapid pace. As soon as those new technology developments are grown up enough for primetime, you need to get them inserted into your various programs or product developments. You can’t afford the expense of older technologies, with their inefficiency and reliability challenges … it’s a very competitive environment.”
• Brammer was 21 when he started his career with NASA, working on the Apollo Project, writing real-time software for spacecraft tracking.
• He later joined TASC, a former business group of Northrop Grumman — at the time a small, privately-held company, where he initially served as project leader, then section manager, division director and eventually the unit’s first CTO.
• Brammer has held various positions with national level organizations such as the National Academy of Sciences, the Defense Science Board, and several professional societies.
• Brammer and his wife, Linda, are avid travelers who have been to more than 60 countries around the world. In their most recent trip over the holidays, they took their entire family — their children and their families, including grandchildren and a great granddaughter — on a Caribbean cruise.
What they’re saying: “Bob’s unique ability to stay several steps ahead on the technology landscape keeps Northrop Grumman at the forefront of industry advancements. His passion, keen insight and in-depth knowledge of cybersecurity, advanced wireless, weather and climate modeling, and public health, among other areas, speak to his strengths and abilities as our CTO.” — Linda A. Mills, corporate vice president and president, Northrop Grumman Information Systems
In just over two years, Deb Dunie has helped position CACI’s portfolio offerings for maximum impact. When Dunie came on board the Arlington, Va.-based IT company in October 2006, she was stepping into a position that had just been created following a series of acquisitions. “There was a huge need in the company for a technology-related advocate, a solutioning advocate,” says Dunie. “We had done all these different acquisitions,” adds Dunie, “we put a lot of emphasis on how we were going to integrate the acquisition but the portfolio of offerings wasn’t really known across the company.” Today, you’ll find a different story. CACI is going after more “complex” opportunities with large IDIQ vehicles, and now has the capability of binning its portfolio into eight mass core functional competencies. That re-baselining has allowed CACI to better partner across the company, reducing reliance on subcontracting. “I’m really excited about what we’ve done here,” says Dunie. “I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback from our investment communities, the market, and our clients … they now know the broader spectrum of capabilities we can bring to the table.”
Dunie’s TECH FORECAST: “We are tracking a number of different technology developments. One is a broad swath of advanced cybersecurity capabilities. Another is cloud computing, its capabilities, and whether the federal market space is going to be comfortable outsourcing the management of classified data, so to speak, the infrastructure of the government into that commercial space. We know the desire is there and there is a lot of investigating in that direction. Also, this latest administration has brought a lot of attention to the fact that people can communicate using web 2.0 — what will be web 3.0 and 4.0 — and that it has massive and profound impact on the success of a mission that might be undertaken.”
• Holds over 23 years of senior level technology experience, including nearly five years with the Department of Defense, plus key positions with technology companies on the commercial side
• At DOD, Dunie worked within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, USD(I) as Director, Plans and Analysis, and as the Director of the Business Transformation Office at the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.
• In November 2006 Dunie was awarded the Secretary of Defense Medal for Meritorious Civilian Service.
• Dunie is the chairman of the board of the Ballston Science and Technology Alliance and a member of the AFCEA Tech Committee. She also loves to play in her garden and keep up with both of her daughters’ social engagements.
What they’re saying: “With her distinguished background and prowess in the application of technology, the addition of Deb Dunie as chief technology officer to CACI’s executive management team has enhanced our technical distinction to the benefit of CACI, our customers and our country. We take great pride in having an expert like Deb as a part of our team in this age of rapid technological innovation.” — Bill Fairl, CACI President, U.S. Operations
Some CTOs struggle with an innovation gap. Not Yogesh Khanna. When Khanna became CTO of CSC’s North American Public Sector three years ago, he was determined not to fall into a frequent trap faced by many in the industry. “It’s really hard to try out new things, to experiment, to do ‘what-if’ scenarios,” says Khanna. Khanna’s own willingness to go out on a limb found a staging ground at CSC’s IT Infrastructure Center of Excellence, one of 19 dedicated facilities within the company that offers customers expertise in specific vertical markets and IT specialties. Khanna helped found the center — “a proving ground for new ideas,” as Khanna calls it — four years ago, then took ownership of it when he became CTO a year later. A lab environment that incorporates vendor/partner hardware and software with integrated solutions and a worldwide network, it provides the ability to replicate the customer’s environment. That functionality proved critical two years ago, when Khanna tested tested several vendors’ wide area network (WAN) accelerators; several clients now have the technology embedded in their existing architecture. Khanna has also been positioning CSC as a trusted agent for many open source solutions.
Khanna’s TECH FORECAST: “Spending cuts are going to put an additional burden on federal CIOs to do more with less,” says Khanna. “We are going to see our public sector clients migrate from buying, building and managing expensive solutions to essentially buying trusted services from systems integrators and other service providers and holding those providers accountable against service level agreements.”
• What he loves most about his job? “Focusing not only on technology but how to turn technology into business solutions is a fabulous sort of fusion,” says Khanna.
• Prior to joining CSC in 2002, Khanna was the founder and CEO of a venture-backed technology company MobileHelix, which focused on mobile computing solutions.
• Over his 23-year career, Khanna has functioned as a subject matter expert, chief solution architect, business strategist, capture manager, and business area executive with P&L responsibilities.
• Khanna also “bleeds maroon and orange” — he’s a graduate of Virginia Tech and a rabid fan of Tech’s football and basketball programs.
What they’re saying: “Yogesh’s ability to map technology-enabled solutions to business problems has been a real asset to CSC. His vast experience and his entrepreneurial skills allow him to bring a unique perspective to his current role as the CTO of IT Infrastructure Solutions.” — Ashley Smith, President of IT Infrastructure Solutions for CSC
ManTech’s been a long-time player in the cyber business, and Michael Kushin is helping keep the momentum going. Since Kushin became CTO of ManTech last April, he’s been continuing the company’s tradition of implementing game-changing innovations. “We’ve formalized our approach to supporting cybersecurity by having a cyber campaign, executed out of corporate office, that facilitates our business units’ ability to execute on new cybersecurity programs,” says Kushin. An example would be the implementation of IRAD programs that offer the government a means to defend and respond to cyber threats. Beyond cybersecurity, ManTech has taken the lead in the successful recent launch of A-Space, a “highly restricted Facebook-style website,” as TIME recently put it, that serves as a platform of engagement for various intelligence agencies, including the CIA, FBI, and NSA. ManTech also recently received a R&D 100 award for a polymer product, CORIN, which they’re looking to productize.
Kushin’s TECH FORECAST: “Our number one objective over the next 12 months is cyber security. For us it’s kind of a perfect storm, it’s a big problem that the government is paying attention to, in an area we have expertise, for customers we support today. With a expanded IRAD program now in place here at ManTech, we are looking for next generation innovations within cyber security that will allow us to defend against the threats and provide a response capability, which is necessary in this environment.”
• From the time Kushin started his career, he’s been supporting the Department of Defense and national security community.
• Kushin was a partner at a company called Integrated Data Systems (IDS) before it was sold to ManTech in 2003.
• Though Mike does not have much time in his new role for hobbies, he still manages to play for the ManTech softball team — the Noble Eagles — and will continue to play until the younger guys kick him off
What they’re saying: “Because of his extensive background and experience with the intelligence community and DoD, Mike is the type of CTO who truly understands how to use technology as an enabler to solve some of our customers most important mission challenges. As our CTO, Mike is able to utilize that direct experience and offer a wide range of customers solutions, all across ManTech, and then work with the next generation of thought leaders within our company to do the same.” — Bob Coleman, President and COO of Mantech International
Jake MacLeod has always loved the telecommunications industry — not even active military operations, dust storms, or 130 degree weather could keep him from it. In 2003, with the Iraq war underway, MacLeod personally went to Baghdad to conduct a complete analysis of the country’s wireline telecom system. For the next six weeks, MacLeod, CTO of Bechtel Communications, personally led the design and rebuilding of the communications infrastructure in Baghdad, while employing a predominantly Iraqi labor pool. In 2006 came another accomplishment, when MacLeod’s technology team held the first WiMAX interoperability testing in the United States — a move that kicked off the wireless WiMAX industry. “We had 19 manufacturers and 95 technologists from all over the world come in … for eight days original code was written in Bechtel’s labs to ensure interoperability,” says MacLeod. This past fall, MacLeod’s team finished an exhaustive six-month report, “The Migration to 3G LTE (3rd Generation Long Term Evolution) — The Impact on Infrastructure.” The report details each aspect of the infrastructure that must change as a result of the pending migration to 3G LTE. Most recently, MacLeod spearheaded the development and production of the Bechtel Technology Journal, which addresses fundamental technology issues in six different industries within which Bechtel is involved. Previously, MacLeod developed the communications-focused Bechtel Communications Technical Journal, which has become a global industry reference document for network operations.
MacLeod’s TECH FORECAST: “Number one, LTE will be deployed in a big way beginning the first half of 2010,” says MacLeod. “Two, backhaul is a key to success (backhaul is the connection between the cell site and the core network) because right now it’s a chokepoint. Third, Femtocells will offload some of the network traffic onto the home cable and fiber network. That will help in mitigating the infrastructure cost. Femtocells are going to be a huge deployment beginning at the end of this year.”
• MacLeod got his start in “the best industry ever invented” as a transmission engineer at Southwestern Bell, and went on to oversee regulatory compliance of all radio systems in west Texas.
• He later became vice president of engineering at PageNet and helped design the first cellular system in San Francisco and 130 other cities nationwide.
• MacLeod was elected to be a Bechtel Fellow in 2007 and represents Bechtel as a speaker at several industry conferences each year.
• Jake is a world class sawdust maker (according to his wife Connie). In his spare time Jake focuses his woodworking skills on producing fine furniture for family and friends.
What they’re saying: “Jake brings a wealth of industry knowledge and experience to the table for Bechtel. Jake’s 30-plus year history in the communications industry has assisted Bechtel in understanding the direction of the industry both domestically and internationally.” — Toby Seay, President of Bechtel Communications Inc.
When Dave McQueeney speaks about his role as CTO of IBM’s U.S. Federal government business, he’s especially passionate about one thing: collaboration. At a time when there’s greater demand for information-intensive systems, with flexibility as a prime deliverable, collaboration among CTOs is key. “I spend a lot of time with the other players whom we work with every day in government and business trying to develop this new model,” he says. Most recently McQueeney co-led a study group backed by the Association for Enterprise Integration, part of the National Defense Industrial Association, a nonprofit focused on greater efficiency within the defense industry and the government defense agencies. Along with Mike Burnett, director of Northrop Grumman’s Joint Command and Control Systems business unit, McQueeney helped put together a report that outlined suggestions on how to specify and procure systems in the burgeoning world of service-oriented architecture. That report was recently presented to John Grimes, chief information officer for the Department of Defense. “Contributing as a member of this federal ecosystem of government, contractors, and product suppliers — to develop a new way of working that better serves the needs of the government — is something I’m most proud of,” says McQueeney.
McQueeney’s TECH FORECAST: “2009 is going to be about the responsible use of existing technology to provide accountability and traceability. As the government starts making investments — whether for stimulus investments or the TARP program, for example — we in industry are going to be responsible for implementing the mechanics of those systems, which will be focused on achieving mission outcomes, while also providing the public with a view of both accountability and traceability. There’s some exciting new technology that’s been developed and deployed recently that can instrument IT systems to track business outcomes. The bottom line is that through a better understanding of an agencies data, delivering mission critical information, or improving citizen services through the use of technology all leads to an important outcome — smarter government.”
• McQueeney started with IBM in 1988, right out of graduate school, and spent his first 10 years with IBM Research and the other 10 in the operating units.
• He’s been the chief technology officer for IBM’s Federal Government business since June 2004.
• McQueeney has a passion for all things aviation, and is an avid builder and flyer of replicas of WWII fighters.
What they’re saying: “We count on our Federal CTO to play two important roles: to be a technical leader in conversations with our clients and our partners, and to make sure we exploit on behalf of our clients all the wide-ranging technical skills and capabilities that IBM has. Dave’s experience in IBM Research as a lab director and division VP gives him a good foundation in our core technology, and his roles in our services, sales and software business over the last 10 years allow him to share deep insights with our clients about how our technologies and services can deliver value to business and mission problems.” — Todd Ramsey, Managing Director of IBM’s U.S. Federal government business
With a name like Mars Mariano, it’s hard not to be cool under pressure. “If there’s a car accident I’m the kind of person you want on the scene, I don’t react,” says Mariano. The same holds true in the daily challenges — or, “opportunities,” as Mariano calls them — that accompany his role as CTO of Affiliated Computer Services. “I go huddle with the smartest minds I can find and say, ‘Let’s go solve the problem,’” he says. That’s been Mariano’s approach since he became ACS Federal Solutions’ first CTO back in 2000, and after a break to pursue other ventures, resumed that role in July 2007. Since then, Mariano has collaborated with federal customers on performance-compensated and results-based solutions. In short order, that collaboration has resulted in new contracts with customers in areas such as customer care, public safety, government financial transactions, child welfare, electronic benefit cards, and health-care services. “Providing pharmacy benefits to disaster struck areas, that was just something that industry had not been able to provide the federal government … we figured out how to solve that problem,” says Mariano, citing one breakthrough. The key to ACS’s success, adds Mariano, is its ability to be organic and diverse, thanks, in large part, to its presence in every state. “We are not so overstructured with our solutions that you’ve got to have ‘brand A’ to proceed,” adds Mariano.
Mariano’s TECH FORECAST: “There are immense problems to take care of — energy, aging population, larger health-care issues, significant budget challenges — and the government will ask our industry for help. At a little bit lower level, in terms of implementation, we have to responsibly manage our supply chain. Because our government does a great job at fostering small business, we have to ensure our supply chain stays reliable. That means working with looking at smaller companies as equal partners in solving our customers’ needs.”
• Mariano enjoyed a 20-year career at NASA. “We had to learn to do more with less all the time so innovation was something you did every single day,” says Mariano.
• Mariano operated several small businesses throughout his career, all federal. Among them was dNovus, which focused on software development and delivery for the Department of Defense; dNovus eventually became one of the largest small businesses for the Department of Veteran Affairs.
• Served as CTO at Lockheed Martin
• In his spare time, Mars enjoys community-based photography and tennis.
What they’re saying: “Mars has a history of solving our clients’ most difficult business challenges, leveraging technology and innovation as fundamental enablers for sustainable transformation. His balance of business acumen, technical expertise, and unwavering commitment to mission success have earned him the trust of customers, partners, and coworkers.” — Tim Conway, senior vice president and managing director, ACS Federal Solutions
For the past few years, Gil Miller has been on a winning streak. As CTO of Noblis, a nonprofit company that develops science, technology, and strategy solutions for government and private sector clients, a key area of focus for Miller has been service-oriented architecture. “In the last year and a half we have put together SOA as an architectural concept for bringing together networks of sensors: nuclear, radiological, chemical, and biological,” says Miller. “This allows us a platform to collect data and make predictions of impact,” he adds. That work has the potential for far-reaching impact in areas as diverse as homeland security and natural disasters.
Miller’s technical achievements don’t stop there. His team has made SOA work successfully on small platforms, as well as across commercial communications networks. The Noblis team has also broken new ground in telecommunication systems, converged services in particular. “We’ve come up with the analytics to put a new best practice in place for network design,” says Miller, “the analytics that you need to appropriately estimate performance in mixed voice, data, and video environments — we’re quite pleased about that.”
Miller’s TECH FORECAST: “Two things to watch,” says Miller. “First, the problem of information overload — what I typically refer to as the ‘oceans of data’ problem. Expect continuing development of personalized tools to help us extract information and knowledge from large data sets regardless of form — numeric, text, visual. But constant attention and further innovation will be required. Second, as we address how to adapt to global climate change, we are seeing that lots of the models that were appropriate in the past are not appropriate for the present and future. Many engineering standards and models that we used in the past will need to be rethought. The climate adaptation and the converged network analytics cases are really good examples of why we always need to question if today’s models are applicable in the future.”
• Miller brings over 30 years of experience in large scale systems engineering and acquisition projects to his role.
• He has testified before source selection protest bodies such as the General Accountability Office and the previous General Services Administration Board of Contract Appeals, has presented technical and policy issues to members of Congress and their staff, and has served as advisor to several GSA administrators.
• He is a recognized expert in information technology, networks and telecommunications, and acquisition strategy.
• In his spare time, Gil enjoys nature and wildlife photography.
What they’re saying: “Noblis requires an innovation engine that anticipates client mission needs, invents new thinking, solutions, and models, and creates new capabilities. Gil is a very practical chief technology officer who guides our innovation engine. He uses extensive experience working with our clients to understand what they need and to guide them to the appropriate technology choices.” — Amr ElSawy, president and CEO, Noblis
Brian Neely brings unique perspective to his role as CTO of AMERICAN SYSTEMS. “I’ve lived the life of those I now support,” says Neely, who spent his first eight years at the company on the direct billable side. When Neely was tapped as CTO four years ago, he commissioned a complete review of the corporate technology “state,” and found that while the company had nearly quadrupled in size over the last 10 years, technology hadn’t kept up. Neely kicked off an ambitious three-year plan so technology could more effectively support AMERICAN SYSTEMS’ corporate mission. Neely focused, first and foremost, on security and survivability. “We are now as safe and recoverable as the leading companies out there,” says Neely. Neely also instituted improvements to process and governance, and instituted new and improved business office systems. Probably Neely’s most significant achievement, though, was the deployment of a single portal that tied all corporate information and systems together into an integrated, easy-to-use interface that could be accessed securely from anywhere with the click of a mouse.
Neely’s TECH FORECAST: Neely has his eye on three trends in 2009. Social systems: “It’s a paradigm shift to the way people see and interact with the world, and it’s not just a technology for “outside the corporate walls,” says Neely. The Cloud: “Most software services organizations are moving toward the cloud approach already … ironically, it won’t be long before this ‘client/server’ world cycles back to the ‘mainframe/terminal’ world again!” Human-Computer Interfaces: “This will probably be the most revolutionary impact on the technology industry,” says Neely. “One of the most exciting sectors of this industry is in interactive displays. With some of the more impressive technologies coming from companies like IBM and Microsoft, but one with the biggest ‘wow’ factors coming from a company out of LA called Oblong Industries, and their g-speak” spatial operating environment.
• Neely started with AMERICAN SYSTEMS straight out of college as an engineer and technology analyst.
• Later tapped director of eBusiness, then moved over to AMERICAN SYSTEMS’ corporate office.
• Neely is also a professional photographer, inspired by his grandfather who ran a studio for over 60 years.
What they’re saying: “Brian is a very technical, but equally important, a very practical technologist. He joined AMERICAN SYSTEMS as a line engineer in direct support of some of our most critical customers. As a result, he learned first-hand the urgency of satisfying customers, be they external or internal. In the time since I appointed Brian as the company’s chief technology officer, he has taken the lead in the successful implementation of an enterprise-wide IT system with state-of-the-art business tools and practices that are as good as any that I have witnessed in the industry.” — William C. Hoover, CEO, AMERICAN SYSTEMS
Since becoming CTO and the managing partner of the Horizontal Services unit of Unisys Federal, PV Puvvada has been hard at work. The results speak for themselves. Last year, Puvvada’s team built up a portfolio that spanned the company’s entire capability spectrum: infrastructure transformation, system integration application services and development, and security. Puvvada also worked to ensure that his team was operationally capable of delivering all offerings. “We put a lot of emphasis on service delivery excellence as our core theme,” says Puvvada, adding that his unit was one of the first organizations at the federal level to receive ISO/IEC 20000-1:2005 (ISO 20K) certification for its desktop management services. Driving those successes was what Puvvada calls a “world class team” of strategic thinkers and visionaries. Being able to elevate your dialogue beyond technology details is key to any team’s success, says Puvvada. “I’m a strong believer in emotional intelligence,” says Puvvada, adding, “Be very keen on understanding what the needs and perceptions of your team are … that’s a very small thing but it makes a big difference.”
Puvvada’s TECH FORECAST: “The biggest short term trends will be IT infrastructure consolidation, cloud computing, virtualization, and green IT. Also important will be achieving better transparency of government data and activity through technologies like service oriented architecture and web 2.0 communication methods. You are going to see improved end user collaboration, and a lot more publishing of government data internally and externally. This is going to require companies to think about how to secure that data. Offering an integrated set of technologies in the healthcare arena — everything from electronic medical records to consolidating data across various communities to assessing fraud and abuse in the entitlement programs — will also be important.”
• Puvvada has held previous positions in service delivery, program managing, and lead operations.
• Puvvada served as the Chair of IAC.
• He enjoys “unscripted vacations” with family. “We travel a lot to learn and experience different cultures,” says Puvvada, “our boys would like to visit all the continents — we’re halfway there.”
What they’re saying: “PV’s breadth of knowledge and experience makes him an indispensable member of my team and the person I go to when I need advice on just about any issue related to information technology and its application in the government. His years of work with Unisys clients as a trusted advisor, his experience as the chair of the Industry Advisory Council and his involvement in other business and technology focused organizations give him a knowledge and skill set few can match.” — Ted Davies, president, Unisys Federal Systems