Keith Fimian, who’s running as the successor to Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA-11th District), got his business education firsthand when he launched U.S. Inspect 21 years ago. Today the company is the largest property inspection company in the United States. In an exclusive interview with ExecutiveBiz, Fimian talks about his plans to continue Davis’s legacy of supporting government contracting in the Northern Virginia area.
Tell us about your background and why you’re running for Congress.
Keith Fimian: I am a CPA who worked with the international accounting firm KPMG for seven years. I was promoted to manager a year early and senior manager a year early and did a rotation in the firm’s executive offices in New York City. I like numbers — I understand numbers — but after New York I didn’t love the work any longer so I started my own company 21 years ago.
My days in public accounting gave me the foundation to get that company off the ground. Because of my background, I was very aware of what was important and what was not — the things we had to keep our eye on and the things we didn’t. Today, my company, U.S. Inspect, is the largest property inspection company in the United States.
Having a business background is indispensable for serving effectively in government today. Our nation faces big challenges and we would accomplish far more if we had more men and women with business backgrounds in Congress.
What are the major issues facing government contractors and how would you approach those issues?
Keith Fimian: Obviously, the change in administration is the first issue facing government contractors. Though we are not going to be dealing with or seeing any changes for 18 to 24 months, this is a huge issue that every government contractor must be sensitive to, particularly because Obama has said that he wants to reduce government contracting by 10 percent.
The lack of trained contracting officers and acquisition specialists is another. Beyond that, the retiring or “graying” government workforce has broad implications all its own. According to the Partnership for Public Service, the civil service has far more employees over age 45 (58 percent) than the private sector (41 percent). And by 2012, federal agencies will lose a half million employees and most of those in leadership positions. So there are some really big issues that have got to be addressed.
Tell us your view of Tom Davis’s role with government contracting. How would you keep that momentum going in terms of protecting jobs and the economy locally?
Keith Fimian: Quite simply, I will follow in Tom’s footsteps. He did a great job for the government contracting industry and he has been my mentor in this process so my discussions with him have allowed me to see the issues much as he sees them. That said, I am a strong proponent of government contracting both for the sake of our local economy and the creation and protection of jobs here, as well as the overall long-term good of our nation.
What would you consider the biggest contrast in how you would approach government contracting jobs compared to how Gerry Connolly did?
Keith Fimian: I am as strong a proponent of government contracting as the industry can have, having built and operated my own high-tech company here in northern Virginia for two decades. Mr. Connolly is in favor of such things as Card Check, which would allow for the unionization of private companies — unbeknownst to the owners of those companies while such organizing is taking place. This will kill many small businesses and high tech and government contracting companies in northern Virginia and I am dead set against it. Card check even eliminates the secret ballot which is completely un-American. So, my opponent wants a larger and more unionized federal workforce, which will hurt federal contractors, and I don’t.
What else would you do to protect jobs here?
Keith Fimian: I want as business friendly an environment as we can have in northern Virginia so that small businesses of all kinds, particularly high tech and government contractors, can prosper and thrive!
Anything else you’d like to add?
Keith Fimian: Those in positions of power over government contractors are often well intentioned but simply do not understand the law of unintended consequences. A good example is cost plus pricing where, in our zeal to fix one problem, we create three others. We are all concerned about abuse in cost plus contracts but in the case of development contracts, where the technology is evolving even as the requirements are being understood, we must recognize that it is not a perfect world and we can do more harm than good if we are not careful.
Interview with Keith Fimian was conducted by JD Kathuria
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