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GCN : October 2013
ZAID HAMID 30 GCN OCTOBER 2013 • GCN.COM There was no question about the direc- tion Stan Soloway s career would take two decades ago when he found himself at the intersection of the public and private sectors. It was there that he discovered the road that led to his passion --- lead- ing the Professional Services Coun- cil and tirelessly advocating for reform in government acquisition. In 1993, as an independent public-a airs consultant to a small trade association of federal contractors, Soloway began attend- ing meetings of the Acquisition Reform Working Group, which represented a cross-section of the government contracting commu- nity. The experience proved to be something of a revelation. "When the Clinton administra- tion came in, the whole arena of acquisition reform became a major focus," he said. "I found this nexus between the public and private sectors and the policy issues abso- lutely fascinating, even some of the [minutiae]. I didn t know very much about government contract- ing, but I learned as I went." Soloway swiftly gained exper- tise in the nuances of government contracting, and his career took o . Just four years later, in 1997, he was o ered the job of deputy undersecretary for acquisition at the Defense Department, and he served in that position until the end of President Clinton s term. In 2001 he was named president and chief executive o cer of PSC. "Stan is an outstanding busi- ness leader and an icon in the government contracting com- munity," said Renny DiPentima, former president and CEO of SRA International, a leading provider of information technology services to the government. After 12 years with Soloway at the helm, PSC has grown from 115 member companies to about 370 members, making it a relentlessly commanding voice in Washington on legislative and regulatory policy issues related to government pro- curement and outsourcing. And Soloway himself is more energized than ever about trans- forming the partnership between government and industry. "We re at a point now where the government and private sector are joined at the hip, and we re not going to turn that clock back," he said. "The question is how we make the clock work best." In the last year, Soloway and PSC have led the charge for a renewed acquisition reform e ort to deal with what he sees as a crisis. The latest report from PSC s Leadership Commission states: "Rarely, if ever, has [the govern- ment] had to contend with the kind of fiscal uncertainty and aus- terity we see today, while also cop- ing with a rapidly escalating human capital crisis, a hitherto unseen pace of change in technology and diminishing public confidence. If ever there were a compelling crisis out of which lasting change was both possible and necessary, this is it." It s not only the unremitting budget struggles that prevent government and industry from doing business normally. There is a looming crisis in human capital, especially among the technology and acquisition workforces, Solo- way said. At the same time, "industry itself is transforming --- the rise of cloud, infrastructure as a service and consumption-based buying," he added. "This is all a very new world. It s going to change the structure and face of industry as well." But Soloway sees a silver lining: an opportunity to use the crisis to fundamentally reshape and reform the workforce and the procurement process. Soloway s ability to dig deep into the details of the government- industry nexus and convey pen- etrating insights to Washington s power players separates him from the rest of the pack, according to DiPentima. "His knowledge of the federal government runs deep, from his days at DOD to his leadership of PSC," DiPentima said. "His representation on the Hill of the professional services industry is always seen as informed and bal- anced and, as a result, e ective in representing the views of PSC members. Stan is a policy guy at heart and can think and debate with the best." • STAN SOLOWAY: A light at the nexus of industry and government GCNAWARDS| INDUSTRY EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR BY RICHARD W. WALKER