It is always interesting, and exciting, to see exceptional leaders within the GovCon space branch out to launch their own consultancies. It is exciting because of the breadth of knowledge and intel they possess and are now able to share more freely. Looking to leverage this leader’s 25 years of experience in the IT Industry with 23 years working with Federal Agencies including HHS, CMS, NIH, VA, ED, IRS and FDA, we recently caught up with JR Glass, President of the recently launched GovCon Growth Solutions.

The Evolution of the Agile CMS

Having been engaged with CMS since before it was called the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, JR has seen a lot of change within the agency over time, including a move from what was once slow and gradual forward movement to greater agility in product updates, engagement with industry, policy development and rule proposals.

“CMS has benefitted from visionary leaders that are setting the tone. There has been a real push to bring commercial practices into the government space that are focused on improving the citizen experience and how they do business with government.”

He points to leaders such as Rajiv Uppal and Robert Wood who are pushing the envelope, encouraging those on their teams to think outside of the box, while maintaining the strict requirements for privacy and security that government requires.

Post COVID – What’s Next for CMS?

While some agencies struggled to adapt during COVID, JR says CMS succeeded, in part thanks to its contractor community who expanded capacity within the infrastructure at the agency, supporting their jump to a remote environment.

The recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, particularly as it envisions CMS having the ability to negotiate the price of drugs, will be the next hurdle. “CMS will need to understand how that policy impacts its data, systems, and how it will be able to either leverages assets already developed, or create new systems and data sources that will facilitate this.”

Noting much of the work has already been underway over the past several months, the fallout opportunities to small and large business should be seen within the next year or two.

Another challenge for CMS will certainly be the Medicaid unwinding, the agency’s move to return to business as usual post-COVID and the public health emergency declaration. “The end of the public health emergency will cause some States to redetermine eligibility and many people will lose coverage.  There will be a drive from people to go from Medicaid enrollment to the ACA and to get their coverage through the federally facilitated marketplace. Efforts are underway to create special enrollment periods and to ensuring capacity on the CCIIO side of the house. The marketplace is where those systems and applications reside  and large numbers of people will be using them.”

“Expect an increase in activity similarly within CMCS, which means that organization is scrambling to make sure they’re communicating clear policy direction and changes to the citizenry through their websites and their work. There will be a lot of opportunities around the Medicaid unwinding and the Inflation Reduction Act and, as always, security underlies all of that.”

Focus for Industry

CMS is clearly very focused on its BatCave initiative, which aims to make security and compliance easier and more accessible for end users. That DevSecOps or SecDevOps needs to be an integral focus for anyone looking to work within CMS so any investment in cyber capabilities and certification is a good one. Anyone who doesn’t already follow Robert Wood on LinkedIn should be.

Noting the strength of the contractor community focused on CMS, it is also recommended that anyone who is not already a member, look to join NCMA Woodlawn. “I would call their events must-attend – the lunch and learns, the networking opportunities… CMS also has a really strong small business advocate in Anita Allen. She is a good one to follow and she regularly participates in industry events where she shares advice and updates on small business opportunities.”

Noting that getting to know competitors and potential partners is key, following Shelley McGuire of Market Strategies & Solutions is a great way to know the players involved. “Shelley holds regular happy hour and opportunity focused events. One of the best things I like about those is the chance to hear from new and upcoming companies around their capabilities and offerings. Knowing what offerings and capabilities those different companies have is really instrumental to putting together the right solutions to help CMS meet their objectives.”

Advice for Newbies

Entities wanting to do business within CMS should get involved in that larger CMS community and really understand how CMS is organized. “CMS is divided into different centers and offices and each center and office has their own mission and their own budgets. They have their own technologies and challenges and constraints which they’re operating under. Getting to know each of those organizations and some of their technologies and the opportunities they represent is vital to winning business so do your homework.”

Should the opportunity arise to meet with CMS, a listening focus, seeking to understand those pain points and challenges, rather than running in full steam ahead with a new solution or technology before you have heard or understood the ask is recommended. “They will not remember your company if you are not able to relate to them, to say, I understand your mission, I understand your business and I’ve been thinking about how I can help you.”

Over the past five to 10 years CMS has gone out of its way to invite new blood into the ecosystem, to focus less on those who simply know CMS, instead seeking those who can operate in an Agile way, delivering better and faster solutions. “With the growing focus on better citizen facing services and websites, on success within the commercial space that makes it easier for citizens to engage, those who do their homework in understanding CMS and its needs can win and succeed, without any past performance at the agency at all.”

Culture

Success in GovCon requires hiring and retaining people and a knowledge that your employees are your biggest asset. Making sure you’ve got a corporate culture that makes your organization a fun place to be, a place that employees want to spend their time, that has a mission that they can align with is key. “Some of the secret sauce for how some of these companies operate, resides in their corporate culture so protecting, nurturing and finding ways to demonstrate that culture is key.”

Engagement and being a good neighbor is also key. “ The CMS vendor community is fantastic to work with, and they all are working hard to support the agency in its mission to help the beneficiaries, the poor, the sick, the elderly, the infirm, the most needy. Try to have a positive relationship and open mindset. Recognize that sometimes you’re going to win on your own, sometimes you will win as a partner, sometimes you will lose all together.  Be a good sport, celebrate when you win, and congratulate the winners when you lose.  Always remember though that the person you’re working for today might be working for you tomorrow, and vice versa. It’s always good to be a good corporate citizen in this environment.”

About JR Glass

Among JR’s career highlights include being recognized by peers for 4 consecutive years as an awardee of FedHealth IT Magazine’s “100 Award” for driving change and advancement in the Federal Health Information Technology and Consulting Market; being inducted into the FedHealthIT 100 Hall of Fame (HoF) for making an impact, going above and beyond, driving innovation, challenging conventional wisdom, driving positive outcomes, and giving back to the larger community; and leading growth efforts including establishing enterprise business development and capture processes, business strategy development, end-to-end identification and capture of new business, and supporting on-contract growth winning over $1.9B in total contract value.

About GovCon Growth Solutions

GovCon Growth Solutions provides Business Growth Advisory Services, including business development, capture management, and coaching services to companies looking to grow in the Government Contracting Market. We have a deep focus in Federal HealthIT with an emphasis on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its Operating Divisions including the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

 

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  1. khornik@integritym.com

    Thank you JR and Orange Slices

  2. J.H.

    The IRA PMO was awarded to Deloitte, but the real opportunity is in the implementation.