Ballard in command at Perot Systems GS

Former Navy submarine engineer plots a course into the federal market

Perot Systems’ decision to aggressively pursue federal information technology contracts was no fluke, said Jim Ballard, chief operating officer of Perot Systems Government Services. It was a carefully considered decision by company founder H. Ross Perot and his son, Ross Perot Jr., chairman of the board.

“What they told us was they were looking for steady growth, a stable platform,” Ballard said. Ballard was chief operating officer at ADI Technology when Perot Systems bought the company in 2002. H. Ross Perot asked Ballard, a former Navy submarine engineer, to remain onboard. Ballard led ADI from 1997 to 2002 when its annual revenue grew from $7 million to $67 million.

To further establish the new company in the federal sector, Ballard orchestrated the purchase of IT provider Soza and Co. The companies came together as Perot Systems Government Services (PSGS).

As a midsize company, PSGS has considerable flexibility, Ballard said. “We can afford to be maybe a little quicker, maybe a little more agile than some larger company that is tens of billions of dollars in size and has a similar bureaucracy as the government.”

Under Ballard’s leadership, PSGS has grown from $4 million to $270 million in annual revenues in four years, according to data from Perot Systems.

“Some of the larger companies have gotten so large they’ve lost touch with their customers,” he said. “Some of the smaller businesses are not able to jump in and do the large things the government needs to do.”

Ballard spent the past four years steering PSGS into partnerships in the intelligence and homeland security communities and with the Defense Department.

“We’ve gone after very specific agencies that we think have a penchant — or at least some inkling or desire — to perhaps make a change, to take a chance,” Ballard said. “We’ve made sure that we’ve done very well in those markets so that the agency we’re working with develops a level of confidence in us and trusts what we can do.”

Ballard said two large contracts the Education Department recently awarded PSGS are examples of how he expects the company to operate.

“We were able not only to be successful and start a very nice partnership and relationship with the Department of Education, but we delivered ahead of schedule,” he said. The goal now, he added, is to use that experience to show other agencies how PSGS performs.

Ballard said he wants to double the company’s current annual revenue in the next few years to make PSGS a long-term, middle-market player. “That’s a reasonable target,” he said, adding that the company is a member of Boeing’s SBInet contract team and a prime contractor on the Homeland Security Department’s Enterprise Acquisition Gateway for Leading Edge Solutions contract.

“Clearly [homeland security] is an area we’re going to grow in,” he said.

Ballard said he believes that now is an extraordinarily challenging time for government, which is suffering from a generation of retiring executives, budget reductions and attempts by Congress to make federal agencies run more like businesses. “All that’s created an opportunity for us to step in,” Ballard said.

Ballard’s willingness for PSGS to embrace risk and take on tough tasks flies in the face of what he learned at the Navy’s Defense Management College. “The thing they told you was, ‘You’re not going to get fired if you hire IBM.’”

Ballard acknowledges that he and his staff spend months getting to know various agencies and departments and assessing their needs — “standing in their shoes,” he calls it — before making a sales pitch.

“There’s nothing worse on the government side than having someone who’s an IT person coming in and saying, ‘OK, I have this IT solution. Do you have a problem that might be able to work with it?’ instead of the other way around,” he said.

Dan Cornell, an investment banker at Stifel Nicolaus, said Ballard is a skillful deal- maker. Cornell helped Ballard sell ADI and buy Soza, deals that would not have happened, he said, if Ballard had not been an effective relationship manager. “He made sure the relationships between the founders of Soza and the people at Perot stayed strong. Jim was very instrumental in getting the deal done.”

Cornell said in merger and acquisition deals Jim showed concern for the employees. “Everything from Jim’s point of view was, ‘How do we take care of the employees? I want to take care of the employees.’ [It was] not ‘show me the money and how to get it.’”

Despite his heavy workload, Ballard squeezes in time for travel and leisure activities, such as mowing his lawn. “I like the way it looks when it’s done,” he said, laughing.

The Jim Ballard FileCurrent position: Chief operating officer of Perot Systems Government Services.

Family: Wife, Andrea Marie Ballard, and two sons, Jason and Christopher.

Residence: Burke, Va.

Previous position: Chief operating officer of ADI Technology when Perot Systems bought the company in 2002.

Last Navy assignment: Major program manager for submarines at the Naval Sea Systems Command. He managed the Los Angeles- and Ohio-class nuclear submarine shipbuilding programs at the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics at the New London, Conn., and Newport News, Va., dry dock and shipbuilding facilities.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School. He also graduated from the Management Program for Executives at Northwestern University’s Kellogg Business School and the Defense Acquisition University’s Program Manager Course.

Hobbies: Landscaping, gardening and an occasional round of golf.

Last novel read: “The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown.

About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

Rising Stars

Meet 21 early-career leaders who are doing great things in federal IT.


  • SEC Chairman Jay Clayton

    SEC owns up to 2016 breach

    A key database of financial information was breached in 2016, possibly in support of insider trading, said the Securities and Exchange Commission.

  • Image from

    DOD looks to get aggressive about cloud adoption

    Defense leaders and Congress are looking to encourage more aggressive cloud policies and prod reluctant agencies to embrace experimentation and risk-taking.

  • Shutterstock / Pictofigo

    The next big thing in IT procurement

    Steve Kelman talks to the agencies that have embraced tech demos in their acquisition efforts -- and urges others in government to give it a try.

  • broken lock

    DHS bans Kaspersky from federal systems

    The Department of Homeland Security banned the Russian cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab’s products from federal agencies in a new binding operational directive.

  • man planning layoffs

    USDA looks to cut CIOs as part of reorg

    The Department of Agriculture is looking to cut down on the number of agency CIOs in the name of efficiency and better communication across mission areas.

  • What's next for agency cyber efforts?

    Ninety days after the Trump administration's executive order, FCW sat down with agency cyber leaders to discuss what’s changing.

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