Randy Wotring joined AECOM upon that company’s estimated $4 billion acquisition of URS Corp. in late 2014 and now holds the title of group president of management services at AECOM.
The 30-year public sector and infrastructure veteran led URS’ federal services arm for 10 years as president prior to the transaction.
Wotring discussed the integration of URS into AECOM in this wide-ranging conversation with ExecutiveBiz, where he also offered an outlook on the future of public-private partnerships in the infrastructure market and AECOM’s geographical expansion push.
ExecutiveBiz: What areas of the business have you focused on since the deal closed?
Randy Wotring: The URS-AECOM merger was one of the biggest in the industry over the last several years. The first six months was focused on the successful integration of two companies. First and foremost, operational excellence is necessary for all of our clients in order to protect the base. We focus on performing well, efficiently and safely.
The integration of both management teams was done extremely well. We are happy that the combined team is working well together and is running on full speed.
ExecutiveBiz: What are some market areas AECOM has more access to post-merger?
Randy Wotring: The two companies coming together was a good match because both companies had strong sets of capabilities in the number markets. They had a very large geographical footprint. We have strengthened our position in the intelligence.
We’ve strengthened our position with other national governments and we are pursuing a lot of opportunities in the U.K., Australia, the Middle East, Africa and India. Although the federal market in the U.S. is somewhat shrinking, our addressable market is increasing because of the combined capabilities of two organizations and the expanded geographical footprint. We are able to address more client needs at this point in time.
ExecutiveBiz: How do you see the federal infrastructure market and public-private partnerships in that area evolving?
Randy Wotring: We are going through some growing pains. We’ve seen a lot of starts and stops and some very large public-private partnerships. AECOM is built and has the vision of being the premier infrastructure organization in the world. We are the number one design firm in any country. We have very large construction processes both horizontal and vertical.
We have a finance organization and are involved in financing some of these partnerships. With our broad technical service capabilities, we offer and provide services across the full life cycle of any project. That said, public-private partnerships will be the way of the future. Even though some projects go through the process and get cancelled, this market will mature.
There will be a significant number of opportunities. Within the federal marketplace, it will be slower to use these partnerships but that will come around as time evolves.
ExecutiveBiz: What is the biggest change you’ve seen in GovCon within the last decade?
Randy Wotring: You’ve seen a number of signification changes in this last decade. The overall reduction in the budget is driving change. The industrial participants round off to somewhat 170,000 companies providing services to the government. It is a very fragmented market. When the budget reduces you see significant competition.
At this point in time, companies do things that are contrary to logic and the government makes selections that sometimes defy logic. One Army general worked for us and said, “If you want it bad, you get it bad.” We’ve seen that happen in the government.
There is a growing understanding that low price-technically acceptable can be a powerful tool in some situations and not very useful in others.
It is the change in a budget and a change in the selection criteria. Protests are up significantly. It is a growth industry now for some. That is certainly causing issues for some government contractors. The budget uncertainties have lengthened the procurement cycle and it is the biggest issue customers and companies face at this point in time.
ExecutiveBiz: Is there a trend that you have your eye on for the rest of 2015 and the start of 2016?
Randy Wotring: We are broadening our vision and field of play. We are looking more internationally and we are playing in the U.K., Australia and India. We see outsourcing opportunities there as governments outsource some of their defense activities.
Within the U.S., we see great opportunities in the cyber space and unmanned systems in the electro-magnetic spectrum. We are much better able to address the intelligence market at this point in time and the growing pipeline of activities there.