Dan Johnson, General Dynamics

General Dynamics IT on a roll with market change

Turmoil in the technology markets, combined with a tilt toward austerity and tighter procurement budgets, would be a trying formula for any company whose business is selling IT solutions to the federal government. Dan Johnson, president of General Dynamics Information Technology Inc., sees it as an opportunity.

The business is complex and a challenge at times, he said, but that’s “almost always a positive” because it involves gaining new work, integrating new businesses, or having to enter new markets. Johnson relishes all of it.

“Dealing with these challenges is what I have sought out my entire career, dating back to my time in the military, so I am energized by it all,” he said.

After a six-year stint in the Navy, Johnson left in 1975 to provide project management and systems acquisition expertise for Navy weapons systems programs at KPMG, eventually rising over the next two decades to head the company’s Defense Department consulting. He took responsibility for all of the company’s government business in 1997, a position he held for the next six years through the spinoff of KPMG Consulting Inc. in 2001, and its renaming as BearingPoint Inc. the following year.

Johnson took his final step from consultant to actual solutions provider in 2003 when he became chief operating officer of Anteon Corp., considered at the time one of the more dynamic and innovative companies in the government systems integration and services field.

General Dynamics saw it that way, at least, buying the company in 2006 and merging it with what was then called General Dynamics Networks Systems to form General Dynamics IT.

Given that background, it’s no surprise that Johnson, who became president of General Dynamics IT in April 2008, takes the long-term view to current government markets. The pace of technology adoption and deployment “has really been amazing” over the decades he’s been involved in IT, he said, as the government changes priorities and missions depending on the challenges it faces.

“The best way to deal with this change is to continually focus on helping government customers understand how they can continue to meet their mission goals with innovative IT solutions and services support, regardless of how markets and priorities evolve,” he said.

The challenge for his company is to stay on top of the technology developments, to really understand them, so that you can determine what solutions really make a difference for the customer and “what solutions are perhaps not quite ready,” he said.

If Johnson is as energized by new businesses and opportunities as he says he is, he must be really be buzzing right now.

General Dynamics IT was awarded a seven-year, $867 million contract in June to develop a consolidated IT infrastructure for the Homeland Security Department’s new headquarters in southeast Washington, D.C., and government infrastructure modernization could drive a major part of his company’s business in the next few years, 

The DHS deal joins a number of other IT infrastructure projects the company is involved in, Johnson said, such as the Pentagon Renovation program through to the recent completion of the new Walter Reed Military Medical Center and the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital.

“The government is putting a focus on modernizing IT infrastructures for key facilities across the country, so we are very excited about that business,” he said.

The work is also churning in well-established businesses. General Dynamics has been involved in the health care market for more than 30 years, for example, but at the end of September it closed a $960 million deal to buy Vangent Inc., a fast-growing health informatics and business process company. That purchase alone will boost General Dynamics IT’s workforce by nearly 50 percent, to a total of 24,000.

Overall, Johnson said “I think the markets where we are focused, and the solutions that we offer, position General Dynamics IT well.”

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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