Jumper, 67, and his wife, Ellen, found and furnished a townhouse in Vienna. And the four-star general jumped back into a routine he had long ago mastered with military precision: 12- to 14-hour days, an early rise to exercise, at his desk by 6:30, eating right (soup for lunch) and lights out by 10.
“I hadn’t done that for a while,” he conceded.
Jumper, SAIC’s fourth chief executive in 43 years (and its third in a decade), takes the helm amid shifting fortunes inside the company and beyond. The challenges he faces hit at the core of the business: leveraging SAIC’s distinct culture and history to manage a sharp disruption in the government contracting industry, long a stronghold of the Washington economy.
Firms that prospered from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — bolstering the U.S. effort, from maintaining military vehicles to managing information technology — are now cutting staffs and facilities, reorganizing to match a shrinking federal budget.
SAIC and its 41,000 workers have been dragged down along with the rest. The McLean-based company provides information technology services, intelligence analysis and scientific and engineering consulting for defense and intelligence agencies as well as for other corporations. Despite capturing more work in the burgeoning health and energy sectors, its share price is off 42 percent from its 2008 peak, as economic uncertainty has choked federal spending.
To compound its troubles, the company has a black eye from a contracting scandal related to a project to modernize New York’s payroll and timekeeping system with technology including biometric readers. It paid a $500 million fine to settle allegations of overbilling the city. Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, called the case “perhaps the single largest fraud ever perpetrated on the city of New York.”
On his third week at work, Jumper wrote a memo to colleagues addressing the matter — even though it took place before he became chief executive. “Each of us must be vigilant, holding each other accountable,” he wrote, so that “an incident like CityTime never happens again.”
It was a call to arms from a fighter pilot who’s logged more than 1,400 combat hours.
“He’s a guy that takes names and kicks butts. That’s the way you run a big outfit like the Air Force,” said Arnold Punaro, a former SAIC executive and retired Marine Corps general. “If he doesn’t do that, I’ll be very surprised. And if he doesn’t do that, the company’s performance is not going to turn around.”
What stands out to others is that Jumper has little corporate experience beyond five years on SAIC’s board.