Coming full circle

Considering that Bill Richard is responsible for making the $6.9 billion Navy Marine Corps Intranet contract successful, EDS' new NMCI point man looks unusually relaxed.

Maybe that has something to do with familiarity. Richard's return to the Washington, D.C., area as EDS' enterprise client executive for the NMCI program represents a career that has come full circle. After all, Richard, a 22-year EDS veteran, started his EDS career in Washington, D.C., in 1980 when the Plano, Texas-based information technology giant was just building its federal market.

"My career has gone in something of a 360-degree loop," Richard said during a recent interview at the Navy's NMCI offices in Arlington, Va.

The government technology world has shifted dramatically since the 1980s. Even the concept of a government agency, let alone one of the military services, outsourcing its entire network would have been unfathomable during Richard's last tour of duty in Washington. But today, EDS is in the process of rolling out more than 400,000 seats across the Navy and Marine Corps' shore-based facilities.

Last month, Richard took over the NMCI helm from Rick Rosenberg, who had been leading the NMCI initiative since the company was awarded the Navy deal in October 2000. Rosenberg is using his NMCI experience to help other government clients as they consider developing an enterprisewide network.

Although NMCI is a daunting task, Richard seems very comfortable with the job ahead of him. And his skills appear to be the right fit. Richard said he is "something of a detail person" but also likes to delegate to a core group of trusted associates who can then focus on a handful of goals.

"You need to pick the battles," he said. "If I think I'm going to win every single battle, I may lose the war. So you have to evaluate which battles are important to the customer and which are important to us."

To that end, he has already made some changes to streamline EDS' NMCI management team. And that team is focused on the goals of rolling out seats, meeting the testing requirements and satisfying the Navy.

Richard insists that despite the intense scrutiny NMCI gets from lawmakers, the Pentagon, the press and users, he does not feel undue pressure other than to satisfy the customer — a phrase he recites repeatedly.

Others say Richard is the right person for the job. "Bill brings to his new position a global focus and successful commercial, government and international experience with large performance-based contracts," said Al Edmonds, president of EDS government division. Richard will help move NMCI forward into the next phase, he added.

When Richard joined EDS in 1980, he initially served as a finance manager and then later as an accounting manager for EDS' federal, state and local government group. In 1985, he moved to Europe and helped EDS establish its European division.

In 1990, he moved to Texas, where he became the financial officer for EDS' transportation business and eventually was named president of EDS Fleet Services, an EDS subsidiary.

In addition to having experience with federal, state and local operations, most recently, Richard was responsible for EDS' work with Continental Airlines.

"There are a lot of similarities," Richard said. Like NMCI, the Continental Airlines work was a performance-based contract for a network that ran critical operations for the airline.

Although he acknowledges that NMCI's start has been bumpy, he believes the project is on track. "Both [we] and the customer have common goals," he said.

Richard said he is excited by the prospect of rolling out a network that will be secure and fully interoperable.

"When all is said and done, this is going to be one of the first systems" that will be able to meet those important standards, he said.

***

The Bill Richard file

Title: EDS' Navy Marine Corps Intranet enterprise client executive.

Family: Married, two children. "We're going to be empty-nesters fairly soon," because both kids will be in college, Richard said.

Education: Richard earned a bachelor's degree in finance and associate degrees in computer science and electronic technology from the Pennsylvania State University.

Regarding the pressure of heading up NMCI: "The pressure I have is to be focused on customer excellence as far as service is concerned and solving the issues so we can roll out seats."

About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the DorobekInsider.com, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine, FCW.com, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at PlanetGov.com, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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