The ExecutiveBiz “Been There Done That” lunch events are always interesting because the audience never quite knows how the featured speaker will use his or her time to pack a lifetime’s worth of experience into 30 minutes. In some cases, the speaker will reflect back on a storied career, what they’ve learned and how they overcome challenges.
And other times, like yesterday, the speaker will apply what he has witnessed in the past to make bold yet sound predictions about the future. Recently-retired SRA International President and CEO Renato “Renny” DiPentima likely used his time to examine where the Federal contractor market is headed because of the heightened level of insecurity greeting 2008.
Between the teetering economy and upcoming Presidential election, DiPentima knew that the audience would find tremendous value in absorbing sage commentary from someone who has been there, done that, and seen the market rise and fall.
What Renny spoke of was an industry transitioning to a new climate after 12 years of tremendous growth and prosperity. DiPentima pointed to a Clinton White House (Bill’s, not Hillary’s that is) that – after unfulfilled promises of prior administrations – not only said they would reduce the size of government, but follow up with action. Slicing the Social Security Administration workforce by 26% was just one example DiPentima cited of how government contractors would have a tremendous opportunity to step in and help a leaner Federal government become more productive.
The shift – or “transition” as DiPentima points out – began roughly 18 months ago when Cong. Tom Davis (R-Va) spearheaded efforts to reform the GSA and improve its efficiency. DiPentima related that as this was occurring and the GSA began winding down, task orders took longer to move through the system and Agencies like the DoD began using their own contract vehicles. This has altered the contracting landscape and how contracts are being tasked and fulfilled.
DiPentima concluded by looking forward to the November election, and what he believes is a flawed assumption that the two political parties will be motivated to get a budget passed before the term ends. In fact, DiPentima says, it is just as likely that the parties will go home without passing a budget and blame the other guys if it doesn’t get done.
But within all of the election year uncertainty, DiPentima eyes opportunity. He views the fourth quarter of 2008 as one that will be filled with significant activity due to a mad dash to get contracts awarded before the Administration changes and transition teams enter the picture.
No matter what challenges 2008 brings, DiPentima – when answering a question from the audience – breaks down success to a more fundamental and personal level. He said that the key to success is “matching the right people to the right job.”