ACS exec forms consulting firm

Bob Woods, former president of business applications solutions at ACS Government Solutions Group Inc., is launching a new consulting firm to serve agencies and companies trying to puzzle out changing rules and attitudes regarding large-scale outsourcing.

Woods plans to remain a consultant to Rockville, Md.-based ACS while his firm—Government Sources LLC—gets off the ground.

The new firm, based in Vienna, Va., is in talks with a couple of information technology companies and one federal agency. Woods will be the only consultant for now, but he said other high-caliber people are ready to join if his client roster should grow large enough.

Woods, who spent 25 years in the federal government before moving to the private sector in 1997, said the Bush administration's emphasis on outsourcing work to the private sector, with accompanying changes to procurement rules, has many agencies and companies confused.

"I think that's going to be a hot topic over the next couple of years as agencies figure out how to do it and companies figure out how they're going to respond to it," he said.

When Woods was technology director at the Federal Aviation Administration, a post he held from 1972 to 1987, the agency outsourced data centers and desktop operations, he said.

He also headed the information technology department at the Transportation Department from 1987 to 1991, served as deputy assistant secretary in charge of IT at the Department of Veterans Affairs from 1991 to 1994, and was first commissioner of the General Services Administration's Federal Technology Service from 1994 to 1997.

He worked as president and chief operating officer at Federal Sources before moving to ACS four years ago, he said.

Although consulting companies continue to spring up, Woods said there is room for another new entry. "I think it depends on what you're doing. We're not interested in teaching people sales techniques. There's a market for that, and there's people doing that, but that's not where we're going."

Agencies will struggle with outsourcing, and both they and the private sector will need insight from people who have made it work, Woods said. "It may sound easy, but it's not easy at all, especially for an agency that has never done it, or has done it on a limited scale," he said.

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