Nearly every state budget has seen a shortfall this year. Next year isn't looking much better. For Joe Doherty, those challenges spell opportunity all-around, for everyone. “The solutions the government needs during these economic times are right in our wheelhouse,“ says Doherty. Since becoming executive vice president and group president of ACS Government Solutions in July 2008, Doherty and his team have been busy helping federal, state and local governments with solutions that reduce costs, and in many cases, increase revenue. That timely work comes on the heels of a historic new chapter for ACS: In November 2008, a noncompete agreement ended between the company and Lockheed Martin, allowing ACS unrestricted access to the federal marketplace after a five-year hiatus. In his first year, Doherty and his team helped secure record bookings in four business lines that cover the federal, state and local, and government healthcare markets. How did Doherty do it? For anyone looking to gain greater traction with federal, state, and local customers, check out Doherty's tips >>
“Seek out opportunities to integrate operations. Integrate wherever you can and consolidate wherever you can.” “” Joe Doherty, ACS
ExecutiveBiz: It's been a little more than a year since your new role began. You've seen record bookings in that time. What's your strategy?
Joe Doherty: In tough times, other companies might typically attack their budgets in sales and overhead, but we've actually increased our sales team over the past year. We've hired about 20 very talented sales people led by Kevin Shelly, our new group senior vice president of sales. Another recent addition is Robert Decker, who is our senior sales leader for federal.
ExecutiveBiz: In the past year, ACS re-emerged from a five-year noncompete agreement; you now you have full access to the federal marketplace. What's your status?
Joe Doherty: We're now fully engaged in the federal market with a three-pronged approach: to be a prime contractor utilizing the corporate-wide capabilities of ACS; to subcontract where it makes sense for ACS to show its value to potential partners and agencies; and to remain diligent in looking for acquisition opportunities “” companies that have quality delivery as well as contract vehicles for us to extend our reach and help the federal government more quickly.
ExecutiveBiz: Government healthcare, as well as human services, is also a focus. What strides have you made on those fronts?
Joe Doherty: We have signed a new Medicaid contract in Virginia, and we are working with states, including Alabama and Wyoming, to transform the delivery of care through the development of electronic health information exchanges. States are seeking stimulus funds for these types of projects. In the human services area, we've signed a new contract in Louisiana to administer a disaster recovery program for small-scale rental properties that were damaged in hurricanes Katrina and Rita. We've also won a significant recompete in Maryland for the Department of Human Services.
ExecutiveBiz: Any tips for our readers on helping state and local customers navigate these lean times?
Joe Doherty: Seek out opportunities to integrate operations. Integrate wherever you can and consolidate wherever you can. States are looking for partners to help reduce the cost of government. One way is to create economies of scale and consolidate a business process that arches across a number of state agencies.
ExecutiveBiz: What emerging markets are you tracking?
Joe Doherty: We're looking at three different areas. First is the stimulus, and how ACS can help the administration reach its goals in healthcare reform as well as in the energy space. Second is the environment, and how ACS can contribute through business process improvement. The third focus is global expansion. We're “following the sun“ by looking for opportunities to take our replicable solutions, successful in the United States, to the United Kingdom and elsewhere.
ExecutiveBiz: So you're looking to expand in the UK?
Joe Doherty: Yes, by tapping into ACS' global resources, we are working to expand our workforce to support international work that we capture. We have a three-pronged approach, much like our federal strategy â”€ we are looking for partnerships, acquisitions, and to take advantage of ACS' worldwide infrastructure and resources. ACS has already made acquisitions in Europe; we're taking advantage of that footprint, including the sales teams, solutions, facilities and outreach.
ExecutiveBiz: For those wanting to partner with ACS here and abroad, any advice?
Joe Doherty: The best approach is to understand who we are. We're looking for expertise to align with ours to broaden or deepen our capabilities. Our sales model is very consultative, so we look for people who are subject matter experts with domain knowledge in one of our markets, such as healthcare, human services, finance and revenue, or federal, and then follow the money. We're also a big proponent of working with small, disadvantaged, disabled veteran businesses and minority-owned businesses.
ExecutiveBiz: What can we expect from you a year from now?
Joe Doherty: We want clients to be reaching their operational goals and improving their financial position through ACS' continued innovation and client-centric approach. We will also see the positive impact of our increased sales resources resulting in a larger pipeline, significant new deals in emerging markets and overseas; and that our organization has a deeper and broader skill set through strategic acquisitions.