Barbara Humpton became chief operating officer of Siemens Government Technologies — the German conglomerate’s U.S. federal subsidiary — in December 2014 after three years as head of business development for the organization.
The 25-year GovCon sector veteran and senior vice president at SGT has been with the subsidiary since its start in 2011 and is also a veteran of Booz Allen Hamilton and Lockheed Martin.
In this conversation with ExecutiveBiz, Humpton offers an update on her agenda since the promotion to COO, SGT’s work with the U.S. Army on initiatives to help the branch use renewable energy and federal infrastructure trends she is watching.
ExecutiveBiz: Concerning your COO role at Siemens Government Technologies, what areas of the business have you focused on the most since December?
Barbara Humpton: Last summer my focus at SGT expanded beyond business development and into the operations of the organization, that is, how we deliver our products and services to our federal customers. Siemens focuses on electrification, automation and digitalization.
One of the world's largest producers of energy-efficient, resource-saving technologies, Siemens is a leading supplier of systems power generation, transmission, infrastructure and healthcare. We have interesting projects like smart buildings and installations in the U.S., Europe and Asia; and renewable and secure energy now on four continents.
It has been an exciting year for me to drive performance as we serve our customers.
ExecutiveBiz: What energy savings goals has the federal government prioritized?
Barbara Humpton: Under the leadership of the federal environmental executive, the federal government has developed a comprehensive plan to promote the development of sustainable energy. The White House recently issued an executive order that established a framework to promote energy sustainability in federal buildings and other facilities.
A cornerstone of that framework is a federal mandate that 20 percent of electrical energy consumption by all federal agencies must come from renewable sources. The executive order goes further and emphasizes the need for federal agencies to use performance contracting, in other words, private financing rather than taxpayer dollars.
Looking at the federal government's overall strategy to increase sustainability, reduce greenhouse gases and improve the use of renewables, we see a great opportunity for Siemens to bring our technologies to the table and help the government meet these challenges. A good example is our partnership with the National Park Service. Last year, the NPS selected Siemens for an energy savings performance contract.
We are working on 13 different sites around the national capital region, including the White House, the U.S. Capitol and extending all the way to the Antietam Battlefield, where we are installing renewable energy technologies such as solar arrays. We are implementing water conservation measures and updating lighting at many of these locations.
Those are all driving greater sustainability. Siemens is relying on private financing for all of our work with the NPS. Not a single dollar of taxpayer funds is needed to complete these projects. In fact, the government will save money, while consuming less energy.
ExecutiveBiz: What opportunities exist for Siemens through the Army's renewable energy programs?
Barbara Humpton: The Army has been one of the most proactive federal agencies in addressing this challenge. It has established several types of contracts that industry can use. Regarding the Army's large-scale renewable energy strategy, we have seen a relatively small number of opportunities launched under this contract vehicle.
Perhaps this is partly because the Army has other contract mechanisms it can leverage to achieve its goal of relying more on renewable energy. Recently, Siemens was selected as one of 14 winners on a potential $1.5 billion contract put out by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Whether under an ESPC, power purchase agreement, utility energy services contract or even a funded project that DoD wants to bring forward, Siemens can address the Army's goal to use more renewable energy in any form — solar, wind, biomass or geothermal.
We are currently working on a project for Fort Irwin that converts the refuse produced by the installation into electricity. Using a multitude of the latest technologies, Siemens can help the Army meet its renewable energy goals.
ExecutiveBiz: How do you see the federal renewable energy market taking shape in the year ahead?
Barbara Humpton: I think a couple of factors influence people's technology decisions. One is cost. The cost of several forms of renewable energy, especially solar, has been on steep decline over the last few years. Solar photovoltaic technology has become extremely affordable and there is an uptick in that activity.
At the same time, we see a renewed emphasis on combined heat and power as the cost of natural gas has gone down and our ability to produce this fuel in the U.S. has gone up.
Most of your readers would be familiar with the concept of taking gas-based power generating assets, capturing the waste heat from that asset and using it to either drive turbines or provide another form of power usage elsewhere in the facility. This is about capturing what otherwise would be waste power and putting it to work.
We think the movement to pure renewables and the uptick in combined heat and power will be major trends for the government over the coming years.
On energy assurance: now that we see affordable forms of alternative energy, our customers have the ability to invest in various forms of energy security and assurance, be that a micro grid, redundant power supplies or their own backup on-site. All of this can be designed to give critical federal assets ongoing uninterrupted power.
ExecutiveBiz: Which trend in federal infrastructure are you watching?
Barbara Humpton: Talking about intelligent infrastructure, Siemens has its eye on the outcome of Executive Order No. 13636: “Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity.“ We believe this will improve security for the government. We have worked with our government customers on numerous energy and non-energy over the years. We have seen how their information technology and operational technology share the same backbone.
So there is a need to look at the cybersecurity of these components. At the Department of Homeland Security, the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Center has reported an increase in the number of intrusions into the federal government's OT infrastructure. The government is assessing the risk and examining the number of controls and objects on their networks. Siemens can help our customers improve their security posture across the entire enterprise.
We have industrial control systems installed around the globe. We figure that as much as 60 percent of the world's industrial control systems are Siemens systems. So we can bring our know-how and expertise to help the federal government harden its networks.
To bring all of this together, there is a pressing need for affordable alternative forms of energy that deliver resilience and security to our federal customers. Customers won't get that without also paying attention to the cybersecurity of these energy systems.
Also, Siemens was a proud sponsor of last month's National Infrastructure Week. This annual series of high-profile events around the country strives to build momentum for revitalizing America's economic competitiveness through rebuilding American infrastructure. Siemens CEO Eric Spiegel joined Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx at this year's kickoff event, “Investing in America's Economy.“
Eric spoke about recent Siemens research linking investment in intelligent infrastructure to economic competitiveness and job creation. We have found that spending on infrastructure creates a multiplier effect on productivity and attractiveness for investment.
As a company that works with cities, building the infrastructure of tomorrow in more than 190 countries around the world, we believe this is precisely the kind of focus we need to create jobs, growth and economic opportunity for American workers in the 21st century.