An advocate of commercial best practices
A colleague describes EDS’ David Hadsell as one ‘who under-promises but over-delivers’
- By David Hubler
- Feb 12, 2007
David Hadsell inherited a broad portfolio when he was named vice president of sales and business development for EDS’ U.S. government services division. About six months into the job, Hadsell is managing a portfolio that includes numerous federal civilian agencies, the Defense Department, the intelligence community, state and local governments, and several nonprofit organizations that do business with the government.
Hadsell said he approaches the new job with a clear purpose: to bring the best commercial business practices into the business of government.
His affinity for government consulting began early. His father was the General Services Administration’s National Capital Region administrator, a key official in the Pennsylvania Avenue redevelopment project and construction of the Ronald Reagan federal building.
When Hadsell graduated from college, he was recruited by Paul Denett, now administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy. He joined Denett at the U.S. Geological Survey, where he expected to use his science degree.
But “I got involved in the business side, working between industry and government, initially on a project on the north slope of Alaska to do oil exploration work,” he said. Hadsell’s first business trip was to Point Barrow, Alaska, which is about 300 miles north of the Arctic Circle. An interest in science
Hadsell joined EDS in 1988 because he had heard that the company was preparing to enter the biotechnology field. Once again, he hoped to use his biology degree. But it didn’t happen.
“The first thing they did was to put me on a contract at the Pentagon,” he said. Hadsell now realizes that EDS recruited him for his government experience and not because of his interest in science.
His success at overseeing large, complex program management contracts led to a nearly decade-long stint developing business in the energy, utility and communications sectors.
Gary Mears, senior vice president of business development at NewVectors, has known Hadsell for about 15 years since they worked together at EDS. “There’s a lot more steak than sizzle with David,” he said.“He’s not a big talker.”
Mears described Hadsell as “a guy who under-promises but over-delivers.”
Mears said he is confident Hadsell will be successful in his new role.Commercial best practices
Steve Alfieris, vice president and general manager of the federal division at EMC, said Hadsell is willing to bring commercial best practices to the government market. “And he’s done a good job of it,” Alfieris said.
“He’s very good at collecting a lot of input and analyzing customer dynamics and situations and developing an approach to the business that is very inclusive,” Alfieris said.
Some of the processes that work in commercial projects — for example, establishing total cost of ownership — don’t apply in the public sector because of government’s unique control, security and procurement requirements, Hadsell said. But other commercial business concepts can be valuable to the government, he added.
Hadsell said he wants to expand EDS’ federal business, but he realizes that tight federal budgets could make his job more challenging. “It is incumbent on industry to find ways to help our clients get more for the dollars they have,” he said.
“If you’re not going to get any more money, then you have to figure out how to do better with what you have,” Hadsell said. Agencies are achieving that objective by expanding their use of commercial data centers rather than creating their own, he said. Return on investment
An increasing portion of IT organizations’ budgets goes toward maintaining a portfolio of existing applications, Hadsell said. “The key is to find ways to extend the life of that investment” and help the government meet the needs of its constituencies, he added.
The Navy, which has been a longtime major client of EDS, renewed the Navy Marine Corps Intranet contract three months before Hadsell assumed his new job. Hadsell now has a supporting role with NMCI. “It’s important that we show the Navy that [it] was a great decision on their part and that we leverage these experiences to help” other parts of DOD, he said.
Hadsell said his immediate task is to improve EDS’ profile in the government sector. “We tend to be pretty quiet, behind-the-scenes guys. I don’t think there is as much visibility with us as I’d like. I’d like to ensure that the client knows that we’re here.”
He also wants to open the window on commercial practices and bring those into government when they are appropriate.
David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.