Bob Welch, a former top federal contracting official at agencies fanning the executive branch, passed away Thursday. He succumbed to cardiac arrest after a 4-month illness.
Co-workers say, above all else, their friendship with the mentor and visionary will be missed.
After retiring from public service in 2000 as the top procurement chief at the Commerce Department, Welch joined what was then a small consulting boutique called Acquisition Solutions.
Nearly all civilian agency acquisition managers had him to thank for their last job, or their next job, said Chip Mather, Welch's partner at Acquisition Solutions, now a 200-person company called ASI Government.
Welch's government tour started at the Navy, followed by stops at the departments of Agriculture, Treasury and Commerce.
Retired federal senior executive Solly Thomas, whose government career overlapped with Welch's, said in the 40 years he knew Welch, "Everyone wanted to work for -- and with -- him."
Thomas, now a leadership coach for the Partnership for Public Service, added, "Above all, he was the nicest guy you will ever meet."
As for professional accomplishments, it was Welch's idea to use credit cards for federal buying, and he piloted what became a governmentwide purchasing program, according to ASI Government.
Before departing government, Welch spearheaded the Commerce Information Technology Solutions Program — the first such governmentwide acquisition contract specifically for small, small disadvantaged, women-owned, and 8(a) businesses, says his former employer.
Chip Mather, Welch's partner at ASI, said he cared about his protégés' "careers, their families," and "loved to introduce people whom he felt should, as he said, know each other over a baloney sandwich."
Founder of the Procurement Executives Association, he later served on the National Contract Management Association’s board of advisers and on the Procurement Roundtable, a volunteer organization of former senior federal acquisition officials, according to ASI.
Welch earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Wilkes University and a master’s degree in administration from George Washington University.
Among his numerous distinctions are Vice President Al Gore’s Hammer Award for reinventing procurement, the Presidential Rank Award, the Secretary of the Treasury Award, the Department of Commerce Gold and Silver Medal Awards, and an FCW Federal 100 Award.