Rising Stars

Nina Malakouti

Managing complex IT projects and services and the companies that sell them to the federal government is not for the faint of heart. Understanding the pricing, conditions and processes that are the foundation of good federal contracting also requires an agile mind.

Nina Malakouti, a supervisory contract specialist at the General Services Administration, has both a stout heart and a sharp intellect. She nailed down two of the agency's biggest Schedule 70 contracts in 2013 using the mettle and the mentality those kinds of deals demand, according to her managers.

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Negotiating both contracts meant working in a high-profile environment that required poise and focus under stress, bouncing back after temporary setbacks, sacrificing spare time and weekends, and responding to status and information requests with short turnaround times. It also meant wrangling with multiple stakeholders who had divergent views and objectives to produce outcomes that benefited government customers and vendors.

Malakouti honed some of those skills through her work in the private sector. Before she came to GSA in 2009, she managed contracts and operations at a pharmaceutical consulting firm and before that worked at an engineering and construction management firm that specialized in federal project management.

On the Schedule 70 contracts, Malakouti "took action in tough negotiations" with both companies, said Cheryl Harris, a division director in GSA's Office of Integrated Technology Services. The negotiations were high profile with the press, GSA managers and the companies involved, and Malakouti "was phenomenal" in the role, Harris added.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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