Meet Ira Sachs, senior technical director at DRC, a leading provider of mission-critical technology management services and solutions for federal and state government organizations.
Sachs shared with WashingtonExec a little bit about his book, Performance Driven IT Management, what government agencies can do to successfully integrate IT infrastructure, and the role of mobility in adding value and lowering costs for federal and private sector enterprises.
WashingtonExec: Please tell us a little bit about your background.
Ira Sachs: I have a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering degree and a Master’s degree in Business with a concentration in Finance. I’ve spent most of my career in consulting, initially in engineering consulting and then in IT consulting. I also spent a portion of my career working at the Government Accountability Office where I saw numerous government programs struggle to achieve results. At HPTi and now DRC, I’ve supported over a dozen agencies in business transformation and development of enterprise architectures. The combination of knowledge from both degrees and my real world experience has given me a business value focus with regard to IT and how it enables the business.
WashingtonExec: What made you want to and decide to become an author?
Ira Sachs: Over the course of my career I’ve seen large government IT programs struggle, go over budget, underperform, or be cancelled outright. The studies I did at GAO often focused on high risk programs and approaches to mitigating risk. I was involved early on in recommending the use of enterprise planning, including architecture and portfolio management to minimize duplication and redundancy, while using business case analysis to assess the value of projects and programs in an overall strategic portfolio. So I know of and have used business tools that can be used to help assess programs and keep projects on track. I got to the point in my career where I wanted to communicate an architecture and portfolio-based perspective to others in the hope of bettering large IT programs, reducing risk and duplication, increasing business value, and saving money. That is why I wrote my book—Performance Driven IT Management.
WashingtonExec: What is the biggest aspect of the government contracting IT community that needs to be changed?
Ira Sachs: For the government to achieve the best value from strategic IT and business transformation investments, I feel that IT acquisitions, agency architectures, and programs need to be in lock-step and focused achieving the business value, as determined in the business case that supports a given program’s existence. Government program managers can then use the business value of the program and associated business performance metrics to bound acquisition spending and government projects more effectively.
WashingtonExec: Where do you see the IT government contracting industry headed in 5 years? Cloud computing, big data, mobility, virtualization?
Ira Sachs: For the next few years, I feel that cost savings will be paramount. So there will be a focus on technologies that can save infrastructure costs such as shared services and cloud computing. Additionally, as we become more awash in data, I think some of the focus will be on so-called “big data” projects that can synthesize large amounts of data and provide effective information for operations management and decision making.
WashingtonExec: What do you think of the argument that implementing mobility would cost more money in a time of budget constraints and so should be put on hold?
Ira Sachs: I feel the mobile computing is the key to large productivity gains for the government and private sector. That is why you see more and more folks in the private sector now with iPads and smart phones. So my thought is that mobile computing, with appropriate security considerations, should be rolled out as quickly as possible because I think the productivity of government and private sector employees will increase to a point where it will be worth the investment.
WashingtonExec: Who do you admire or what tech company do you believe emulates efficient IT management?
Ira Sachs: I admire Amazon for its IT management and how it has made purchasing for individuals so easy. Their IT infrastructure is state-of-the-art and has enabled their business. Amazon has also been a great innovator with the Kindle, electronic books, cloud computing, and other services.
WashingtonExec: What is something most people might not know about you?
Ira Sachs: I’ve been a serious amateur photographer for my entire adult life. I really enjoy the creativity of photography and now, with digital photography, to combine the creative aspects of photography with the technical computing aspects. I enjoy sports and landscape photography best.
WashingtonExec: What book has had the greatest impact on you? Personally or professionally?
Ira Sachs: When I was young I read the book called The Source by James Michener. This was a fabulous and powerful historical story. The book showed me how one can be transported in time and place by a powerful narrative. More recently I read Unbroken, a World War II story of courage and strength under incredible duress. Professionally and personally, I found The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Covey very useful.
WashingtonExec: What motivated you to write your book?
Ira Sachs: As my career progressed, I saw numerous IT programs go over budget and not achieve the results for which they were intended. I wanted to share the approach I’ve developed for reducing the risk of these large programs, and the knowledge and experience I’ve gained, in the hopes of helping others to save taxpayer dollars, improve IT programs, and government service to citizens.