2014 Industry Eagle Award Winner

Robin Lineberger: All about the co-opetition

Robin Lineberger

Robin Lineberger of Deloitte (Photo by Zaid Hamid)

Robin Lineberger has been many things in his career: Air Force officer, BearingPoint executive, CEO of Deloitte Federal Government Services, board member of multiple industry associations, and now senior advisor to Deloitte's aerospace and defense group. Through it all, however, he has always been a people person.

Not in the sense of being amiable and well-liked by his peers -- though he is that, too -- but rather in his belief that cultivating talent and fostering collaboration are the cornerstones of any enterprise's success. "It's going to start and end with human capital," Lineberger told FCW. "People with talent have options. ... This industry needs to track and retain the best talent that we can get."

So when Lineberger and his peers on the Professional Services Council’s Leadership Commission found themselves discussing the changing landscape of federal acquisition, they quickly realized that a broader conversation was needed.

"There was something going on in the marketplace that ... we felt could have mid- and long-term damage to the professional services industrial complex," he explained, "and to the level of service that was ultimately going to be provided to the federal government. "So we decided that we should step back, rather than whining about it ... and try to look at the root causes."

The resulting report, “From Crisis to Opportunity: Creating a New Era of Government Efficiency,” resonated with industry and agency executives alike, and the research that went into it sparked some much-needed exchanges between the many stakeholders.

"The report contributed to a discussion about how technologies like software as a service and infrastructure as a service are transforming technology," said Trey Hodgkins, the longtime TechAmerica executive who is now a senior vice president with the Information Technology Alliance for Public Sector. "It helps make sure government is in the swim lanes when it comes to the cloud."

None of that would have happened, Lineberger said, if he and his colleagues had not focused on government's needs as well as their own. "We took great care to engage the CIO community, the acquisition community," he said. "And when we began to engage with the government ... they were having the same challenges."

That focus on conversations and common interests seems to come naturally to Lineberger, who is credited with bringing an almost Silicon Valley-like environment to Deloitte's innovation center. In his new role -- the August 2013 shift from CEO to senior advisor was part of a long-planned succession strategy -- he's using that perspective to help the firm find new ways of working with its aerospace customers. "Before, I was administering and creating the channels that allowed us to bring our capability into the government," he explained. "Now, I find it really refreshing and reinvigorating to get out and work directly with these executives -- because I've faced many of the same challenges that they're facing."

And in the broader market, that ability to embrace what he calls "co-opetition" makes Lineberger a sought-after leader on any number of projects. So when TechAmerica Public Sector needed a new board chairman in early 2013, Lineberger was an obvious pick to step into the role. The group was at an inflection point in terms of both strategy and finances, and not long thereafter lost Hodgkins and his team to ITAP. But Lineberger leaned into the challenge of reshaping the organization, recruiting new talent and "bringing in some different kinds of firms that represent the technologies of the future."

"I think the yellow light stopped flashing," he said. "The gaps are filled. The strategy is set. Now we just need to demonstrate to the community that these new assets can actually execute."

And Lineberger is even more optimistic about the market as a whole, despite the prospect of tight agency budgets for the foreseeable future.

"The client [still] has got to figure out how to do what they do more efficiently and effectively, and try to drive costs out while the demand is getting bigger," he said. "Those fundamental market issues are going to drive demand."

And however much the acquisition landscape might change, Lineberger predicted that the real innovations will come from firms that think outside the process. "Those that are going to be successful aren't going to wait for an RFP," he said. "They're going to come to the client with ideas about how they're going to drive positive change."

"Those people can win over the next several years."

About the Author

Troy K. Schneider is editor-in-chief of FCW and GCN.

Prior to joining 1105 Media in 2012, Schneider was the New America Foundation’s Director of Media & Technology, and before that was Managing Director for Electronic Publishing at the Atlantic Media Company. The founding editor of NationalJournal.com, Schneider also helped launch the political site PoliticsNow.com in the mid-1990s, and worked on the earliest online efforts of the Los Angeles Times and Newsday. He began his career in print journalism, and has written for a wide range of publications, including The New York Times, WashingtonPost.com, Slate, Politico, National Journal, Governing, and many of the other titles listed above.

Schneider is a graduate of Indiana University, where his emphases were journalism, business and religious studies.

Click here for previous articles by Schneider, or connect with him on Twitter: @troyschneider.


The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

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