Lora Drewer is senior vice president of corporate contracts and procurement for CACI. Here’s her take on the current contracts environment:
ExecutiveBiz: How, if at all, is the current insourcing discussion affecting your approach to business?
Lora Drewer: We don’t anticipate much change. Given the reality of the new and sophisticated terrorist threats against the country — and the fact that CACI is a highly integrated partner in our military and homeland defense efforts — there is no doubt that CACI will continue to play a crucial role this coming year and beyond. Our work is becoming even more vital to national security as the country guards against an emerging asymmetric threat from well-organized and well-funded terrorist factions.
ExecutiveBiz: What advice can you offer other contracts executives on navigating the current environment?
Lora Drewer: Often, in this position, you’re viewed in a supporting role; you might even be viewed as a roadblock to accomplishing the business. You have to prove to your technical counterparts that’s not the case … Also, the first time you meet with a contracting officer or some other client shouldn’t be to discuss a major contractual issue. You should really develop a rapport and get to know their hot points so you’re always prepared when something does come up. You [then] know the person, you’re able to go in and speak to them as a peer, and come to a win-win conclusion.
ExecutiveBiz: What other ways can you facilitate a dialogue with contracting officers?
Lora Drewer: They are facing the same challenges we are as we move more toward fixed-price contracting. So, helping them understand [that] as well, matching contract type to risk and including specific requirements and acceptance criteria to make sure that the client is getting what they’re paying for. It’s also important to make sure that we set the client’s expectations and that we come to a conclusion where the client — the government — is happy with the product and service they’ve received and that we’ve developed a good client relationship in that process.
ExecutiveBiz: Any last tips?
Lora Drewer: Make sure that the contracts and procurement team is well-positioned and really able to help the company with risk mitigation techniques. That’s a major part of our job within the contracts and procurement community. This is accomplished in a variety of ways: making sure we have appropriate use of assumptions in our proposals, constant communication with both our technical staff and the client. We do this through kick-off meetings, IPRs — really communicating all of the time to make sure that we are all on the same sheet of music and acting as a business advisor to our technical counterparts.
ExecutiveBiz: What are some questions a contracts executive should ask themselves to gauge if they’re on the right track?
Lora Drewer: Are we in our contracts role going to impact the business financially? Are we going to impact the technical solutions through our suggestions or recommendations? It all goes back to developing that relationship between contracts and the technical people and understanding the line of business that they are in so that you can navigate them through the contractual landscape.
ExecutiveBiz: Where do you see your business a year or two from now?
Lora Drewer: From a contracts and procurement prospective, obviously we hope to continue to grow. Given that we are in a supporting role, we will do this in lock step with the goals and objectives of the company. I will continue focusing on training staff to ensure that our contracting and procurement professionals are up to date on the government policies, trends, etc. Furthermore, we are always looking for ways to accomplish our mission as efficiently as possible, so we continue to look for new and different tools to streamline our processes. The bottom line: I think I’m doing a good job now providing service to both our internal and external clients, I hope to do an even better job in the next year or two.