Roger Baker joins Agilex

Former CIO of Veterans Affairs is now chief strategy officer of employee-owned, analytics- and mobility-focused firm.

Jay Nussbaum and Roger Baker

Agilex co-founder and Vice Chairman Jay Nussbaum (left) welcomes Roger Baker aboard as chief strategy officer. (Photo courtesy of Agilex)

Former Department of Veterans Affairs CIO Roger Baker, who left the agency in March after four years of service, has taken his IT talents to the private sector.

On April 1, Baker stepped into the newly created position of chief strategy officer at Agilex, a Virginia-based provider of mobility, analytics and other technology solutions to the federal government. His hiring signals the six-year-old company's intent to build its brand from a modestly sized 500-person company into a $1 billion organization over the next decade, according to Agilex co-founder and Vice Chairman Jay Nussbaum.

"As one of the most respected and transformative CIOs in government history, Roger redefined technology's role in the federal sector," Nussbaum said. "He will build upon his numerous accomplishments while advancing Agilex' position as our clients' most trusted and valuable partner. With his appointment, it should be clear that we are fully committed to our clients' long-term and enduring success."

Another Take

Washington Technology: VA’s Roger Baker picks Agilex for next career chapter

As CSO, Baker will work to improve solutions with existing Agilex customers -- including members of the intelligence community, and the departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services -- and look to help expand the company's brand to other federal sector clients. Under the Obama administration's ethics guidelines, Baker cannot deal directly with VA for at least two years.

While Baker's public- and private-sector experience and extensive file of federal IT contacts held obvious appeal for Agilex, he said he chose the customer-centric company from a long list of potential suitors because both parties share a vision for a better government.

Agilex, he said, puts the long-term results of its federal customers before short-term profits with the expectation that profits will follow results -- a business model that he feels will not only survive, but also thrive in a sector stressed by sequestration and budget woes.

"The beauty of where I'm at at this point is that you get to be selective about who you work for. This opportunity came along faster than I thought, but I'm pretty excited about getting going," Baker told FCW in an April 2 interview. "I want to continue to help change government, this time from outside government - that is the passion. We as taxpayers deserve and demand better investment, and that's in large part why I took a job inside government. I'm taking this job with the idea that you can have the same kind of influence from the outside, and drive a different model."

Baker first worked with Agilex when it provided technical leadership in the development of the Veterans Benefits Administration's Chapter 33 Long-Term Solution, which delivers education benefits to veterans, and said the collaboration on that project was uniquely positive. After he announced his decision in February to leave VA, Baker said a contact told him Agilex might be interested, and after a first meeting with the company, he was interested, too.

Nussbaum said Baker has a history of delivering results, making hard decisions and using innovative approaches.

At VA, Baker oversaw the federal government's second largest IT department, including a $3.3 billion budget and 7,500 IT professionals. He helped lead the agency in adopting mobile technology to improve healthcare, and pushed for standards-based systems and open-source software. Baker has repeatedly been recognized in the federal IT community for his efforts, and was most recently honored as a 2013 Federal 100 winner.

Outside VA, Baker served three years as the Department of Commerce's CIO (1998-2001), as president and CEO of Dataline LLC, CIO for General Dynamics Information Technology, and general manager for the Telecommunications and Information Assurance business group at CACI International. In his early career, Baker was COO for BlueGill Technologies, and vice president of Engineering and Operations at VISA International. And the hands-on leader is no stranger to hard labor, having grown up on a dairy farm in rural Bancroft, Mich.

Agilex, meanwhile, is the third company founded by Bob LaRose, a serial entrepreneur who died unexpectedly in 2010. LaRose founded his first company, Advanced Technology Inc., in 1976, and sold it in 1988 for $140 million. He then launched Integic Corp., which focused on the federal health care market, and built that company into a $180 million a year enterprise before selling it to Northrop Grumman Corp. for more than $300 million in 2005.

"Roger is going to help shape the second phase of Agilex," Nussbaum told FCW. "He's going to shape our strategy, and looking out over the next 24 months, how many small companies are looking out that far? This is the hardest time government and companies will ever see. We need Roger to help us be paranoid and see what we don't see, go where we wouldn't go, and give us credibility of how to wrap it up and do it."

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