Soloway: Time to embrace the whole of government

Stan Soloway was tapped as Industry Executive of the Year by GCN, and his message is that government, contractors and other stakeholders need to pull together to address the complex challenges we face as a nation.

Stan Soloway likes to talk about the whole of government, and how that special combination of government, contractors, constituents, and other stakeholders need to come together if we are going to solve some of the complex and pressing problems we face as a nation.

Over the years, he has written a column for Washington Technology, and this is a theme he has returned to over and over again. His organization, the Professional Services Council, often advocates the idea that government functions better when all parties involved communicate, when data is used to support policy positions and when serving the greater good is the goal.

He struck that theme when accepting his Industry Executive of the Year award at the GCN Awards Gala last night. His was the first award, and his message was that “while the environment we all work in today kind of sucks,” there is still an opportunity for government and industry to do great work together.

Daniel Werfel, acting commissioner of the IRS, won the Government Executive of the Year award, and Robert Childs, chancellor of the National Defense University, won the Hall of Fame award.

They also echoed Soloway’s comments about the great need today for government and the private sector to collaborate.

The tone of the night was positive, but also marked by the realization that there are challenges in today’s market. There is distrust and misunderstandings between government and the private sector.

As a tablemate said to me last night, the acquisition and procurement system is broken.

Which is why recognizing people like Soloway, Werfel and Childs is important.

Here are links to profiles of each:

How NDU’s Child’s gave iCollege a global scope

Werfel championed technology’s problem-solving power

PSC’s Soloway drove acquisition reform

Of the three, I know Soloway the best. He’s been a regular columnist for over 10 years, and we’ve had plenty of opportunities to talk about the market, and I’ve relied on him to tell me when I’m headed in the wrong direction.

And if you ever have the chance to just sit with him, you’ll hear some great stories, and you’ll learn quickly how important his family is to him. His wife and two of his three daughters attended the dinner, and I think he was as proud of that as anything else.

After the dinner, I saw Soloway surrounded by a group of people, mostly his staff from the Professional Services Council. They were laughing and joking. They were happy for their boss, and not afraid to bust his chops a little bit. That says something about the kind of person he is.

It’s also a reminder of how much the government IT and professional services industry is a people business, and that communication and collaboration are critical to success.

And that’s the biggest challenge we face today; it seems whether it is between the political parties or between agencies and contractors, the default setting seems to be distrust and conflict.

We need more voices like Soloway’s and Werfel’s and Childs’, who advocate for transparency and collaboration. Without heeding their call, we’ll likely never break out of the contentious cycle we are in today.

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