The leaders of several government services contractors, including CACI International, CSRA and ManTech International, have started meeting regularly to draw attention to areas of shared concern.
Ken Asbury, the chief executive of CACI International, told Inside Defense the group began regular get-togethers earlier this year.
“When you see the president meeting with folks, he's meeting with Lockheed Martin and [General Dynamics] and Boeing, or he's meeting with small businesses,” he said during an interview earlier this month. “We have a population of 150,000 people doing really high-end national security stuff.”
“When you look at companies like ourselves or CSRA or Leidos, none of us were getting invited into the White House to have the conversations about where the defense industry was going,” Asbury added. “We would get invited to an [Aerospace Industries Association] or a [Professional Services Council] meeting, but it was still dominated by the primes because -- think about it – you hear, 'Oh, we're going to return manufacturing to the United States.' We're not manufacturers. Most of us are not manufacturers in any way.”
The top priority among the chief executives, Asbury said, is security clearance processing. Industry executives have long expressed concern that a large backlog of investigative cases has made it more difficult to staff their contracts.
Kevin Phillips, who serves as ManTech's president and is set to become its chief executive next month, told Inside Defense this week the “security clearance issue is certainly top of mind.”
“It is very helpful for common issues and common interest items to be prioritized,” he said of the forum for top executives. “Any time you can get priority interest from the C-Suite, then you know it's important.”
He said the senior executives could help to advise existing industry groups. “Industry associations are very important, but they have a broad base of members,” Phillips said.
Another issue the executives have discussed is the effects of continuing resolutions, according to Asbury. Additionally, the group has sought to argue that federally funded research and development centers “be advisory,” Asbury said. “They should not be doing contracts, period. That's our position.”
The executives have also discussed small business, including weighing how best to help small businesses grow, he said.
Asbury said the group has taken its concerns to Capitol Hill. CACI hosted the last meeting, he said, and the next one will likely take place in January.