PWC returns to federal fray

Two years after selling their systems integrator business to IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) officials are rebuilding a federal practice to provide advisory services to agencies.

Called the Washington Federal Practice, the group provides project oversight, risk management, governance, ethics, compliance, privacy, business process, security and data management services, among others.

The group's managing partner, Carter Pate, is also tapping the firm’s commercial health care expertise to give the federal practice a presence in government health organizations, including the Department of Veterans Affairs.

But the practice will not compete with systems integrators, Pate said.

That’s partly because of a noncompete clause with IBM and partly because he believes that providing objective management of major information technology projects will be a significant market for the practice.

Recent major systems failures at the VA and other agencies reflect a need for someone other than the systems integrator to provide project oversight, he said.

It is difficult for the company responsible for doing the work to provide objective assessments of their own outcomes, he said.

Like the other three of the Big Four accounting firms — KPMG, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and Ernst & Young — PWC's foundation is auditing, Pate said.

"We are auditors in our hearts," he said. "We give straight opinions. Who better to hire as project manager than people who for a living give straight opinions and then have to stand behind their opinions?"

Robert McFarland, the VA's new chief information officer, hired Pate’s group to evaluate the failed Core Financial and Logistics System.

"We pulled the plug on the pilot back in July of last year," McFarland said. "It became obvious to us that the pilot wasn’t working out as expected."

The PWC team's report isn't due until June, but they have already answered some questions, McFarland said. Company employees are assessing the VA’s financial practices, which differ from one facility to another. To make them suitable for easy automation, VA officials need to standardize them, he said.

An auditor with no interest in pushing agency officials toward any one integrator or vendor is important, said McFarland, who was a vice president at Dell before joining the VA in early 2004.

"I think it's imperative," he said. "I wouldn’t want to do it any other way. To me, it's an important division of labor. You can’t have people come in and evaluate your project if they have a solution in the back of their mind, predetermined."

PWC will face a new competitive landscape, said Chip Mather, senior vice president of Acquisition Solutions. Agencies are increasingly hiring systems integrators to serve in an oversight role but with the kind of division that Pate advocates.

"Their strategy is to get a true systems integrator in place who will not be doing the work themselves," Mather said. "I'm seeing [that] more and more."

The Fed 100

Read the profiles of all this year's winners.

Featured

  • Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump at a 2016 campaign event. Image: Shutterstock

    'Buy American' order puts procurement in the spotlight

    Some IT contractors are worried that the "buy American" executive order from President Trump could squeeze key innovators out of the market.

  • OMB chief Mick Mulvaney, shown here in as a member of Congress in 2013. (Photo credit Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

    White House taps old policies for new government makeover

    New guidance from OMB advises agencies to use shared services, GWACs and federal schedules for acquisition, and to leverage IT wherever possible in restructuring plans.

  • Shutterstock image (by Everett Historical): aerial of the Pentagon.

    What DOD's next CIO will have to deal with

    It could be months before the Defense Department has a new CIO, and he or she will face a host of organizational and operational challenges from Day One

  • USAF Gen. John Hyten

    General: Cyber Command needs new platform before NSA split

    U.S. Cyber Command should be elevated to a full combatant command as soon as possible, the head of Strategic Command told Congress, but it cannot be separated from the NSA until it has its own cyber platform.

  • Image from Shutterstock.

    DLA goes virtual

    The Defense Logistics Agency is in the midst of an ambitious campaign to eliminate its IT infrastructure and transition to using exclusively shared, hosted and virtual services.

  • Fed 100 logo

    The 2017 Federal 100

    The women and men who make up this year's Fed 100 are proof positive of what one person can make possibile in federal IT. Read on to learn more about each and every winner's accomplishments.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group