The finalists for WashingtonExec’s Pinnacle Awards were announced Oct. 13, and we’ll be highlighting some of them until the event takes place virtually Dec. 8.
Next is Healthcare Industry Executive of the Year (Private Company) finalist Jerry Hogge, who’s special advisor to the president & CEO at MITRE Corp. Here, he talks key achievements, taking professional risks, career advice and more.
What key achievements did you have in 2020 / 2021?
The last two years have been incredibly challenging for the entire world, upsetting the personal and professional lives and livelihoods of billions of people. These global problems are why MITRE exists. We take on those big, multi-disciplinary challenges, with my team and I delivering impactful solutions for the safety, stability, and well-being of the nation. Through strategic direction, vision, proactive investment, and partnerships with government and the private sector, we applied technology, created open-source solutions, and facilitated government and private sector adoption.
I’ve been privileged to lead five of our federally funded research and development centers to help the U.S. government discover innovative solutions for healthcare, veterans’ affairs, aviation and transportation, cybersecurity, homeland security, and government operations. In particular, MITRE manages the CMS Alliance to Modernize Healthcare for the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Center for Enterprise Modernization for the Department of Treasury and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
One of our most significant innovations is Sara Alert, a workflow platform to support public health officials by automating the process of monitoring, reporting, and contacting individuals with COVID-19 symptoms. A free and open-source tool, Sara Alert™ is used in 755 jurisdictions, 16 states, 11 tribes, and 3 U.S. territories, streamlining processes and making it possible for public health officials to help residents at scale. And it can be used to track other infectious diseases beyond COVID-19.
Also, we partnered with the Veterans Health Administration Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention to help identify data and resources needed to support and expand the most impactful suicide prevention programs. We earned FDA Medical Device Development Tool qualification for a rubric to evaluate cyber vulnerabilities in medical devices.
Organizations across HHS, including the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response (ASPR), the CDC, and the National Institutes for Health (NIH), called on the federally funded research and development centers operated by my team at MITRE to create life-saving solutions and innovative public health strategies at unprecedented speed during the pandemic.
During the pandemic, we also helped other government agencies continue their operations in the face of great change. For example, we worked with the Administrative Office of The United States Courts to enable secure, remote/virtual proceedings for 200 court units nationwide. We established MITRE’s National Election Security Lab testing election system vulnerabilities and created SQUINT, a free mobile app for crowdsourcing misinformation on social media to help election officials provide corrected information to the public. SQUINT is now being used to combat misinformation on COVID-19 vaccines.
These are few of many ways that MITRE has made an impact for our government sponsors and the public interest.
What has made you successful in your current role?
I have worked in the federal marketplace for 33 years. No matter the circumstances, no matter the challenges, success has always stemmed from an unwavering focus on delivering for my federal customers and investing in and taking care of my team. Delivering for our great nation is always a team effort, so I always focus on and do everything possible to create the right leadership and team structure, and then invest in them, support them, and provide clear, fact-based strategic direction.
What are your primary focus areas going forward, and why are those so important to the future of the nation?
As the pandemic has shown the world, it is not only imperative that the United States focus on and invest in pandemic preparedness and overall national resiliency, but we must also continue to invest in key areas of national importance such as: 1) artificial intelligence, 2) cybersecurity resilience, 3) border security, and 4) supply chain resiliency and the critical infrastructure elements that form the foundation for those vital and essential supply chains as we reduce reliance upon our allies and enemies for critical goods and services. As a leader whose career in the public sector has been driven by a commitment to serve in the public interest, the need for federally funded research and development centers has never been greater.
What’s the biggest professional risk you’ve ever taken?
The biggest professional risk I took was as the senior executive leading the $4.3B DoD Healthcare Management System Modernization, now referred to as MHS GENESIS. My organization was the incumbent contractor, and the Defense Health Agency decided to change out the custom system my team had developed over the prior 25+ years in favor of a commercial electronic health record system. Because of those circumstances, the prevailing sentiment was that DHA was not only looking to make a system change, but to also make a provider change. As such, we were clearly the underdog.
I led a great team of professionals in designing a flexible solution, and we made a substantial investment in pursuit of the contract award the likes of which we had never done before. Losing would have meant we were essentially out of DHA Health, but winning the contract transformed our business and led to incredible growth, brand recognition and created and extended the careers of so many hard working and wonderful professionals. I couldn’t be prouder of that accomplishment and the incredible team of professionals I had the privilege and honor to lead in that important competition.
What’s your best career advice for those who want to follow in your footsteps?
Always stay focused on your customers’ biggest challenges. Work every day to earn and re-earn their trust and respect. Strive to never let your customers down, but if you do, own up to it, and do everything you can to make it right. I firmly and wholeheartedly believe that the United States of America is the greatest nation on earth and has provided incredible opportunities both professionally and personally for me and my family. I consider it an honor and privilege to serve every single one of the federal customers I have had over the past 33 years, and I encourage all young professionals to consider a career in the federal marketplace.