It was Phillips’ introduction to the world that would come to be known as homeland security. But for Phillips, it had an additional immediacy—the office struck was the agency where he had worked during his Army career.
The Perot saga
Today, Phillips is president of Perot
Systems’ Homeland Protection Division and is working to build the
nation’s safety and security.
Perot Systems, headquartered in Plano, Texas
is the latest venture of Ross Perot, known for his extraordinary
loyalty to employees and deep patriotism—as well as his famous 1992
third party run for the presidency.
Perot founded the company in 1988 to provide
integrated information technology solutions to a wide variety of
business sectors. He had sold his first company, Electronic Data
Systems, to General Motors in 1984, and was appointed to the GM board.
Both sides were unhappy with the relationship, and Perot was bought out
in 1986. Two years and one day after his departure, he returned to the
corporate world, founding Perot Systems, and rapidly built what is
today a Fortune 1000 company with over 15,000 associates and 2003
revenues of $1.5 billion.
Federal services constitute a major part of
Perot Systems’ portfolio, and the company provides consulting,
solutions and program-management support to a variety of federal
agencies. Its latest effort is in homeland security.
“Our goal is to provide five-star performance
and drive results within the government,” said Phillips. “We want to be
looked at as a committed, reliable and accountable firm.”
After a brief stint at Dunn & Bradstreet,
Phillips spent 22 years in the US Army, an experience on which he looks
back fondly. “I don’t regret one day of those 22 years,” he recalled.
Starting as an armor officer, he gravitated toward quality issues and
processes, and capped his military career by leading the restructuring
of the Army’s Communities of Excellence program, a comprehensive effort
to improve the service’s quality of life in facilities, services and
working and living conditions.
After leaving the Army in 1990,he became a
“zealot,” in his own words, for information engineering, writing books
on the subject and becoming a management consultant for a company that
was acquired by Perot Systems. There, he rose to president of the
Management Consulting Division before the company created a vertical
Homeland Protection Division focused on homeland security.
“Certainly, there are a lot of excellent
companies providing excellent solutions,” said Phillips. “But I think
any buyer needs options, and Perot Systems provides an option.”
Perot Systems brings tremendous experience in
program support, according to Phillips. Half the company’s operations
consist of implementing programs, but the other half consists of such
services as quality assurance and portfolio management. Perot adds
value because it brings independence and objectivity to its scrutiny of
contractor performance and government operations, according to Phillips.
In homeland security, the company focuses on
supporting the Coast Guard, for which the company runs networks and
consults on human resources operations. Within the Citizenship and
Immigration Services of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS),
Perot Systems supports immigration offices by helping with records
management. It also assists the Federal Protective Service in a variety
of ways. It is now seeking to expand its capabilities.
As Perot Systems expands, according to
Phillips, it can offer its management, logistics, travel and human
resources expertise to help the department as a whole increase
efficiency and operations.
“The biggest challenge for them,” Phillips
noted of DHS, “is to get to integrated execution. You see agencies slip
into execution before strategy and policy are in place. When that
happens, you end up with fragmented policy. That’s why it is so
important to maintain continuity within homeland security with
policymakers, with those who are defining the strategies and with those
who are executing the strategies. I honestly believe that contractors
and vendors like Perot Systems Government Services can be of value in
that regard. People change in the government, and you need continuity.
Sometimes contractors provide that continuity. Since a large part of
our offerings are on the business side of strategic planning and
business process definition, I think a company like Perot can add