REI Systems – Pioneering the Roadmap for Progressive Government Agencies

Val Ruark always envisioned sculpting her future in 3D design, not navigating the corridors of public service. Even after graduating from Salisbury University, her journey wasn’t chiseled out clearly. Initially assigned basic administrative tasks at NASA, Val’s curiosity and ability to spot opportunities led her to explore beyond her duties, turning a simple data entry task into a chance to understand the strategy behind the data. 

 “I was able to uncover millions in rogue assets by having that greater level of granularity and just reliability of the data,” she says. “And then I was able to propose that this is something that should be its own program. And they’re like, ‘That’s right, and you need to run it.’” 

 Val became a federal employee and tasked with the program she proposed, setting a benchmark for the agency. Her role expanded beyond NASA, influencing change across the government. 

 “To me, that just shows that hard work, commitment, and just doing the right thing can really elevate your career, elevate your success, but you’re also elevating the whole agency,” she says. “It was something that I took so much pride in and it was so fun to be able to go around to the other centers within NASA to promote that use case.” 

After a decade, a new opportunity beckoned. REI, a company she had worked with in her NASA role, offered her a management consulting job in change management working alongside GSA, NASA, and several other agencies. She was drawn by the promise of governmentwide impact and truly driving change. 

Many do not fully understand all the roles the General Services Administration serves. One of those being a vital advisor to the Office of Management and Budget. From REI’s vantage point, OMB’s two offices for Procurement Policy and OCIO collaborative works together to simplify technology for everyone and buy IT goods smarter to boost government efficiency. 

Since 2015, REI has been collaborating with GSA, strengthening its connections with the Office of Government-Wide Policy and the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS). The company supports the Governmentwide IT Category and helps agencies of all sizes purchase IT goods and services in smarter, fairer, and more secure ways. 

REI is more than technology experts. The company champions causes like accessibility and promotes values like diversity, equity, and inclusion. It’s deep into federal acquisitions and IT management. In everything REI does, it focuses on the pulse of market shifts, crafting strategies for the future while addressing today’s challenges. REI doesn’t just identify the needs of its customers; the company anticipates them. 

Together with Communities of Practice, REI is advising on how to set the blueprint for future-forward agencies. REI’s support to groups such as the IT Buyers COP and the Federal Technology Investment Management COP inform their strategies to be nimble, efficient, and innovative. 

Lately, REI has explored financial operations in cloud acquisitions. Understanding the FAR and it’s limitations, the company took a step back and proposed how the Cloud and Infrastructure, IT Buyers,  and Federal Technology Investment Management CoPs could collaborate to drive change. Together, they looked at cloud acquisitions in-depth, considering tech and business, and sought advice from experts like the FinOps Foundation, for better understanding. 

Involvement with these collaborations has helped REI develop robust federal acumen and collect vital agency examples to help push its governmentwide goals forward. It showcases how collaboration can address obstacles and drive projects that might have been hindered by budget or momentum. 

At its core, REI’s work bridged gaps between various government agencies, addressing urgent requirements while also crafting long-term plans. To give you a snapshot, the company’s collaboration with GSA has led to: 

Organizational Change and Collaboration: Bringing agencies together, breaking down the “we’re different” mindset and sparking a new era of teamwork. 

Better Visibility and Accountability: Shedding light on agency processes, making their operations clearer. As a result, GSA programs and initiatives are now top choices for collaboration among federal groups. 

Leading Change with Innovation: In just 6 months, REI assisted in the operationalization and launch of the governmentwide IT Vendor Management Office (ITVMO). Within 3 years, REI helped grow and expand the ITVMO’s service offerings and solutions, thanks to solid partnerships and insightful strategies. The gains have been positive feedback, better efficiency, and saved costs. These clear wins, underscore REI’s ability to see the big picture, not just individual tasks. At the heart of this is REI’s Mindful Modernization approach, reflecting the company’s strategic skill. REI tackles customer challenges comprehensively, merging business knowledge, the latest technologies, and proven methods for thoughtful solutions. This people-first, flexible strategy goes beyond just meeting standards; it actively advances modern digital transformation, deeply integrating emerging  technology into the agency’s culture and strategy.

Make no mistake about it, change in a vast bureaucracy isn’t easy. However, working with GSA showed REI the powerful difference they can make together.  A federal change management guide influenced and supported by REI, offers strategies for government transitions. The guide has been leveraged by several federal programs and communities to support important initiatives, including the adoption of the enhanced Technology Business Management (TBM) framework. The guide also serves as a compliment to other federal playbooks that focus on topics like Application Rationalization and defining the role of federal Chief Data Officers. For each of these use cases, the guide contributed to widespread positive change. 

 It all goes to show that when you create something valuable, people notice, Val says. REI is proud the guide has had a significant impact, influencing not only the GSA but also others beyond. 

 This impact and the drive to effect change are exactly why Val enjoys her work at REI. She attributes her motivation to a deep-seated determination and passion for hard work. 

“Characters like Jack Ryan and MacGyver, who manage to do good and think on their feet, inspired me,” she says. “I’ve learned it’s not just about following orders; it’s about finding value and innovation in everything. Whether it’s leveraging technology for financial planning or building invaluable connections, it’s all about being resourceful and making a difference.” 

 In the end, we all have a bit of MacGyver in us, ready to innovate for the good of our country. 

 

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