“Our ‘design-build-finance-and-operate’ model brings all of AECOM’s capabilities to bear across the full project life-cycle and sets us apart from our competitors.”
EM: Tell me about your background and how you ended up in the federal contracting industry.
Ron Costella: The first 20 years of my career I was an active duty Army officer, where I served in the field Artillery. Since I’ve retired from the military in 2003, I worked in government contracting for large, mid-sized and small companies, holding an initial position as a business development executive, where I performed those functions for a short time and I transitioned to a role where I’ve stayed through the major time of my career. I focused on multiple domains including information technology (IT) services, foreign and military sales, systems engineering and military training. Today, I lead the enterprise IT sector within the [AECOM’s] business segment focused on government markets.
EM: Any challenges that you have encountered along the way?
Ron Costella: The challenge I see in the IT marketspace now revolves around the understanding of IT services, staff augmentation, managed services and shared services; a continued focus on the customer and how to accurately measure risk within the constraints of our current accurate acquisition regulations policies and strategies. The contractor assumes more risk in the move from staff augmentation to managed services to shared services. The risk can only be accurately measured and appropriately-priced if the timing dependencies and control of the transition activities from one phase to the next are known and understood by both the contractor and the customer. It is important to form effective client partnerships to align strategic direction to increase confidence of successful execution within the constraints of our current acquisition structure. Such a partnership will ensure that we jointly understand the current technology and cultural baseline so we can develop detailed courses of action and plans that take into account policy, business case, cultural and technical considerations. This results in an accurate return-on-investment, trade-off decisions and recommendation to meet the customer’s strategic direction with predictability. Predictability is a critical component because we have to be able to provide accurate information to the government so they can make well-informed decisions about the future. Understanding all the pieces of information that are required to provide that predictability is very important. The challenge can only be solved by bringing the government acquisition, government CIO and the contracting community together so we can better understand each other’s perspectives, points of views, constraints and ideas.
EM: Where do you see AECOM bringing the greatest value to federal clients?
Ron Costella: The biggest benefit that AECOM brings to federal clients is the strength of the skill sets of the company. We have about 87,000 skilled employees worldwide. Our focus is on an integrated delivery model to our federal clients–this connects knowledge and experience across the network of experts where we partner with clients to solve the most complex challenges and help deliver a safer, more secure and resilient world.
There are two aspects to that I want to highlight: One is the AECOM-developed “design-build-finance-and-operate” model where it brings all of our capabilities to bear across the project life cycle and allows us to not just be involved with bits and pieces of a customer’s problem set, but to bring all the solutions to bear in an integrated manner. Additionally, we have a trademark approach or methodology called “converged resilience” which we find is a value to the customer and brings measurable results. Resilience is critical to all of our projects and supports the continuity of critical business information technology and physical infrastructure. It is not just IT, but it is operational technology, utilities, industrial control systems, facility automation, inventory — this approach can be applied to mission critical infrastructure–identifying vulnerabilities and risks associated with any kind of service disruption. Whether it be from a technology problem or an unidentified outage, disasters much like the hurricanes that we are dealing with now, and other anomalies that may affect the client’s ability to operate normally. Converged resilience and the “design-build-finance-operate” methodologies set AECOM apart from our competition. Our methods are not something that we think about at the end of the project; It is something that we think about at the beginning. That foresight and that ability to plan and architect solutions with resilience in mind really sets us apart. Without our hard-working employees, we would not have an ability to collaborate and reach back to experts anywhere in the world to solve a problem or to bring a mission-focused experience to the customer.
EM: How do you feel about the current state of national security?
Ron Costella: Whenever you are talking to a veteran of 20 years in the Army (I have a son who is a captain in the Army) they would say that our national security is strong. If you look at the capabilities that we have and that have been tested over the last 16 years or so since 9/11, [the United States] is still the most technically advanced nation in the world. AECOM is bringing that technology to bear in a very positive way that will deter future aggression towards the nation.