Mike Basla joined the former L-3 National Security Solutions business as a senior vice president in March 2015 after a 35-year U.S. Air Force career, then transitioned to CACI International one year later upon that company’s acquisition of NSS.
Now at CACI, the retired lieutenant general and former Air Force chief information officer holds an SVP title and also serves as a USAF client executive for the government services contractor.
Basla recently caught up with ExecutiveBiz to describe his role at CACI and the company’s focus on larger contracts he terms as “solutions-based,” along with his predictions of government services trends to watch this year.
ExecutiveBiz: How have your roles and responsibilities evolved since you joined?
Mike Basla: When CACI brought me on board, I was aligned under the company’s health, litigation, and enterprise IT business. I stayed in that position until July of this past year. During those months, I used my Air Force career experience to provide insights for that business while learning about CACI’s market-focused areas, capabilities, and client base.
Based on my observations and discussions with CACI leadership, we concluded that I could bring greater value to the company as a resource supporting multiple market areas, especially in those sectors that I had worked in during my nearly 36 years of active duty service. Those market areas included communications, enterprise IT, cyber, space, and other support systems in business and logistics.
In July, I became one of CACI’s two senior Air Force client executives and am responsible for engaging with the Air Force, validating their needs, and working with my colleagues in operations and business development to determine if CACI has the right solutions and qualifications to meet those client requirements.
I am doing this with the horizon of two-to-five years. I’m fortunate to be part of CACI team because the foundation of this company is built on character and integrity. CACI possesses many of the same cultural qualities that I lived with and loved in the Air Force.
The people at CACI are great Americans, with strong technical chops, and a deep customer and mission focus in all they do.
ExecutiveBiz: Where do you plan to prioritize your attention this year?
Mike Basla: The Air Force, like other services, is aggressively attacking cyber challenges, and that is essential for mission assurance across the spectrum of operations. They need greater capabilities to test and validate the cyber and integrity posture of their mission platforms. We can help clients assess risks in those platforms and provide mitigation support when the decision-maker deems a risk unacceptable.
The space and nuclear enterprises are two missions that quickly come to mind as benefitting from this support. Another market area I intend to focus on is enterprise IT and the modernization of our clients’ enterprise IT infrastructures. We know that sequestration and the Budget Control Act have limited the service’s ability to modernize.
The Air Force has acknowledged this publicly and is asking industry to provide capable, cost-efficient, and value-added alternatives. CACI has developed a methodology to review existing applications and look at the opportunity to move to a cloud environment, or to replace those applications with a more cost-effective, capable, and secure alternative. This is a big need in the Air Force, across the military, and in many other federal agencies.
ExecutiveBiz: How do you characterize the types of solutions and services CACI focuses on, plus some of the programs and contracts that you pursue in line with that?
Mike Basla: CACI has a clear strategy and vision for pursuing larger, higher solutions-based contracts for our customers’ more complex, enduring mission requirements. That is what our client base is looking for. These types of contracts generally require more innovative solutions to deliver greater mission effectiveness and efficiencies.
Fortunately, CACI has a great track record of developing and implementing our own innovative solutions and services, and of acquiring companies that bring us new capabilities that we can then integrate into our existing solutions and services. This enables the company to support new customers and provide sophisticated, more advanced, and comprehensive solutions to existing customers with those complex and enduring mission requirements.
We leverage technology to create solutions for customers’ critical national security mission needs. This trend will continue based on the commitment from CACI senior leadership.
In the unmanned aircraft systems arena, our SkyTracker solution provides a counter to unlawful and misuse of drones. In the analytics and big data arena, we have solutions that focus on multiple data sources that provide decision-makers with greater situational awareness and the ability to make better decisions based on the analyzed information.
ExecutiveBiz: What trend in the government services market do you plan to observe closely this year?
Mike Basla: I’ll give you a little bit of CACI’s perspective and my perspective on this. First of all, CACI is market aligned, with eleven markets that we focus on. This approach is driven by a market-based strategy to win new business and retain our current business in all of our market areas within the dynamic federal market. This market-based strategy is working and we are going to continue to use it.
The trends I find most interesting going forward include the move by the government to look to industry to provide full-service solutions. In the next few years I expect more emphasis, which we already see a lot of, on industry providing innovation and support to meet the full spectrum of government needs vs. serving to supplement the government workforce.
Finally, I believe there is going to be continued emphasis on cybersecurity and threat identification and mitigation. These are needs we believe will continue to grow across all missions. One just has to consider what we learned about well-documented theft of intellectual property and the rise of cyber crime.
Everyone now agrees we need to get in front of these problems and provide the solutions that can prevent them or alleviate them as quickly as possible. That is a market trend that we are going to see continue.
ExecutiveBiz: What role should industry play in the air superiority effort you described in Signal magazine?
Mike Basla: Industry is playing a major role in the modernization of the air and space domains. That is evidenced by major force programs the Air Force has on the books, such as the F-35, the new tanker, new long-range bomber, and a new trainer. The space community continues to launch new platforms and has encouraged competition in a launch business by certifying SpaceX in a market that was previously limited.
The challenge the Air Force has is to buy as many of those platforms and services as possible with the acquisition dollars that they have available. Their other challenge extends to the support associated with operations and maintenance.
Industry must partner with the Air Force in all of these areas to deliver air and space superiority around the globe, and we see that happening. CACI, and industry, can add value through training of crews, the logistics and maintenance of weapons systems, command and control, and all personnel support systems that are required. These are right in CACI’s house.