With the change in administration and push toward insourcing, every contract executive’s job just got a little tougher. Challenges abound: Faster turnaround time for proposals, tightening federal budgets, new compliance guidelines, plus increasing competition for talent and bids. Add to the mix contentious debate over the definition of “inherently governmental services” — a conundrum exacerbated by the absence of any procurement policy leader — and it’s clear: Today’s contracts professionals have their work cut out for them. But where some see challenges, others find opportunity. Recently, ExecutiveBiz tallied its first annual list of the D.C., area’s Top Contracts and Procurement Executives — individuals working behind-the-scenes in government contracting to ensure their companies stay compliant and innovative. See how these industry leaders — Bill Colangelo, Roger Duke, Lora Drewer, Joe Kopfman, Carl Salzano, Jeff Neal, Joanne Newman, Debbie Thurman, and Phyllis Turvey — are planning ahead despite an uncertain political and economic climate, and how you can do the same.
Cross-pollination of ideas happens every day among Raytheon Information Solutions’ contracts team members. And Bill Colangelo is a big reason why. “I encourage my people to get involved in supporting activities outside of my business area on a temporary assignment basis and vice versa,” says Colangelo, who serves as director of contracts for Raytheon Information Solutions (RIS). “That cross-pollination encourages fresh ideas and approaches,” he adds. Backed by that collaborative spirit, Colangelo has been busy with a key task: integrating two legacy organizations to form RIS. Along with the normal challenges of integration — cultural and process differences, among them — Colangelo had to reconcile multiple accounting, estimating, and billing systems. Another added responsibility: Colangelo and his team now manage all Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts across the entire company, a measure that’s particularly helpful in addressing contracts with a quick turnaround. “That [additional responsibility] was an acknowledgment of the fact that my staff is very competent in managing those kinds of contract arrangements,” says Colangelo. Get Colangelo’s tips here >>
As head of contracts and procurement policies for QinetiQ North America, Roger Duke has faced no small task over the last two years: integrating the acquisition of 15 different small to mid-sized companies — each with its own way of thinking — under the QinetiQ NA umbrella. Along the way, Duke has managed to pull off a tricky feat: establishing common tools and processes for all contracts, subcontracts, and procurement operations without hampering each individual’s company agility and zeal for innovation. Another measure of Duke’s success in policy implementation came when Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) recently gave QinetiQ NA high marks for a control systems review of all financial, executive management, policies, and procedures. Duke’s secret? “We operate in a decentralized manner,” he says. Get Duke’s tips here >>
It’s been a particularly busy last few months for Lora Drewer. As senior vice president of corporate contracts and procurement for CACI, Drewer has been leading what she calls a “major cultural shift”: reorganizing the company’s contracts and procurement organization. “Up until now, we’ve been providing support in a centralized fashion,” says Drewer. The goal now is to provide more dedicated support, fostering better communication, and establishing even greater partnerships between the contracts and procurement organization, and the lines serviced, she says. On the heels of the procurement department’s realignment, Drewer is now doing the same for contracts. Get Drewer’s tips here >>
Since joining BAE Systems in 2006, Karyn Greenfield has spent time in dual roles: heading new business contracts, pricing, and procurements; and guiding contracts for a business line. Along the way, she’s implemented a comprehensive contracts and subcontracts database that’s now used by all lines of business. The database, which was unrolled in February 2008, offers a panoramic view of all key projects from opportunity identification to close of contract. Greenfield has also helped her team navigate larger, more complex proposals through the establishment of an informal council between contracts and pricing. The council has since driven common processes among the various operating groups, it also offers a means for each group to share talent.
Joe Kopfman is riding pretty high these days. Just last month, Kopfman led the completion of a revised ethics compliance program for AMERICAN SYSTEMS. The program, which comes on the heels of the Office of Inspector General’s new requirements, expands on the company’s current ethics program; it now includes a written code of ethics for all employees and greater emphasis on employee training. Under Kopfman’s watch as vice president of contracts and administration, the company has also procured a system for anonymous reporting of ethical violations, which can be delivered via phone or website. Now, Kopfman is putting the finishing touches on a self-reporting audit — months in the making — that ensures the company is in total compliance with current industry regulations. These and other steps are something that Kopfman, a 26 year veteran of the industry, feels passionately about: “If you’re not compliant in 2009, especially with the new reporting requirements, you’re just not going to last long in this business,” says Kopfman. Get Kopfman’s tips here >>
Over the course of his 23 years with Booz Allen Hamilton, Carl Salzano has seen the firm go from $175 million in annual sales to $4.5 billion and counting. Now, on the heels of the company’s historic shift to exclusive focus on the US federal government as its primary client, Salzano is helping position Booz Allen for the next level of growth. “Certainly we see a lot of challenges ahead,” says Salzano, a Booz Allen vice president who helps provide full lifecycle acquisition support to client teams. “I will continue to focus on something here we call push back … creating an environment of empowerment, as well as hiring the best talent, retaining them, and not being overly prescriptive,” he says. “If we continue to do those things well,” he adds, “the rest of the business will follow.” Get Salzano’s tips here >>
Backed by a steady stream of re-compete wins this year and last, Jeff Neal has had a little more time lately to reflect on Perot Systems Government Services’s growth. As senior vice president of contracts, Neal has been with the company from the beginning, helping grow his unit from a small “contractor shop,” as he puts it, to a team of roughly 40. Along the way, Neal has put in place policies, procedures, and compliance tools needed for Perot Systems to grow in the federal marketplace. Since he came on board, in fact, the business has grown from $68 million to the $655 million in revenue it posted last year. “I’ve hired a talented team of folks here to support the entire company,” says Neal. “We also have great relationships with our small business partners.” Get Neal’s tips here >>
Joanne Newman joined L-3 Communications Corporation in May 2001 following an acquisition that was part of L-3’s efforts to expand beyond product solutions to include services offerings for federal clients. Since then, L-3 has acquired additional services companies. The resulting corporate reorganizations — two, over the last eight years — have Newman in large part to thank; she helped align the core competencies of those acquisitions — in one case, four business units, in another, three — into the larger L-3 structure. Beyond contracts, Newman’s areas of oversight include subcontracts and purchasing, as well as pricing and export. Plus, she’s a strong advocate of bringing young talent into the industry. “We as an industry need to do better grooming young professionals in the contracts arena,” says Newman. Get Newman’s tips here >>
ManTech is implementing a robust contract management system thanks to Debbie Thurman and her team of professionals. When Thurman arrived at the Fairfax, Va.-based defense contractor in February 2005, she recognized there was an opportunity to improve response time for DCAA reporting. The current system, which kicked off 18 months ago following a proposal by Thurman, will include archival information, full-cycle tracking, acquisition details from early to closeout stage, as well as organizational conflict of interest vetting information. “Program managers across the company, our CFO, all necessary personnel, regardless of location, will have ready access to all contracts,” says Thurman. Another key project in the works: a system for subcontractors to input their time directly, thereby reducing the invoicing cycle and improving the efficiency of the acquisition process. Get Thurman’s tips here >>
Response time and easy-to-access information, those are top concerns for many contracts executives. In Phyllis Turvey’s case, they’re two challenges she’s met head-on; the systems she’s put in place as corporate director of contracts for Alion Science and Technology are proof of that. Over the past year and a half, she’s implemented the company’s Contracts Knowledge Information System (CKIS), which allows line staff to access contracts on a 24/7 basis, thereby increasing transparency. Plus, Turvey’s team has implemented a new and improved OCI routing system, which allows rapid identification and mitigation of any potential conflict. In addition, Turvey is responding to increased focus on small business set-asides in contracts through the establishment of a small business office, headed by a full-time small business liaison officer. “Contracts is a really exciting field right now,” says Turvey, “because of all the changes with the political landscape and economy.” Get Turvey’s tips here >>