Joe Brock is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Pragmatics, where he leads the delivery of high-quality products and services, management of effective operational performance, and establishment of innovative IT capabilities. Brock was most recently the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Pragmatics’ Federal Civilian Division. He joined the company’s IT Services Division in 2001 as Director of Operations.
After serving in the U.S. Army, Brock received a B. S. in electrical engineering from the University of Hawaii, and he also has an M.S. in engineering management from George Washington University.
WashingtonExec spoke with the Pragmatics COO about his 2013 federal market outlook, business size, LPTA environment, buzzwords, big data, his leadership role within ACT-IAC, and a lot more.
Though we’ve had our share of uncertain and more negative than positive responses to how 2013 might fare, Brock shares some optimism.
“Pragmatics is a well-established mid-tier company with a broad footprint across the federal government. While there is concern about sequestration and its impact on growth,” Brock said, “we have taken this time to improve our competitive posture and strengthen our IT delivery capabilities across all operations. The results have been positive. We’ve been awarded several new contracts this year and expanded our business with some new customers. ”
Small businesses will not have it easy, Brock said. “With the emphasis on cost reduction and enhanced competition, many small businesses will be struggling over the next two years.”
And where does Brock stand on the LPTA environment? He tells us:
“On one hand, I think LPTA for commodity purchases makes sense and is here to stay. On the other hand, I’ve seen LPTA creep into some unique mission-related requirements, such as application development. These efforts require continuously evolving solutions. Many times when these efforts are competed as LPTA, the result is marginal performance and an unhappy customer.
“We’ve seen a lot of contracts awarded at low price, where the new company has come in and had to dramatically slash salaries and benefits. Depending on the locality, employees may not have many other employment alternatives. This is impacting their quality of life and their job satisfaction. In the NCR, professionals have many options and retention becomes an issue. Expect to see a lot of turnover as a result and backlash from the customers whose missions are impacted.” ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
“Those who are successful drive information sharing at an enterprise level and then aggregate data so it can be exploited in news ways to create value”
We also talked to Brock about big data, and he believes customers are hungry for timely and relevant information. “Big data provides a means to gather a wealth of data; business intelligence and analytical tools provide smart ways to deliver it.
“Policies and practices differ among federal government organizations, as far as where they store their data, how it’s managed, and who controls it,” he said. “An organization can truly optimize performance when its business units gain access to an integrated set of information tailored to its operations. Unfortunately, many customers manage and collect their own information separately and do not have a strategy for sharing it internally.
“Some agencies are certainly doing a better job than others. Those who are successful drive information sharing at an enterprise level and then aggregate data so it can be exploited in news ways to create value.”
With all his years of experience in the industry, it seemed fitting to ask Brock if he had any favorite buzzwords. His answer? Business intelligence.
“Our IT solutions encompass most of the technologies being used today. Something I find very exciting is business intelligence — it leverages big data concepts. I feel that CIOs are in a unique position to leverage their enterprise data management missions and build business intelligence applications that create value for their customers.
“For example, at Pragmatics we have leveraged business intelligence capabilities to create dashboards and analytical tools to address complex problems faced by our customers in the financial industry. Pragmatics will be presenting a track at FOSE 2013 addressing that topic.”
Opportunities for leadership and career growth come with Brock’s years of experience. In one instance, leadership presented itself in the form of the American Council for Technology (ACT)/Industry Advisory Council (IAC), where he stepped up his involvement. He explained, “I was very impressed with the ACT/IAC mission and the working relationship it fosters between industry and government. I was part of the Partners Program in 2006, and it was a fantastic experience.
This is a nine-month executive program for approximately 16 industry and 16 government managers. “This program promotes an understanding of the challenges faced by government and industry while covering executive topics in technology, acquisition, and program management. A few years later I was approached to serve as Industry Vice Co-Chair of the Partners class of 2009. I jumped at the chance to support the program. I returned as Industry Co-Chair for the 2010 program. Through my three years of participation in the program, I was able to get to know over 100 exceptional government and industry leaders.”
Personally, Brock’s favorite go-to restaurant in Reston, Va., is called El Manantial. Brock described this as his lunch spot, saying, “It’s kind of tucked away in Reston on North Shore Drive, but it’s family owned, has great food, and has a great atmosphere.”
Other favorite things? His son’s iPad, which Brock confesses to using every morning to read the paper.