Passion, dedication drive GCS rise in the market

Company focuses on helping customers improve acquisition, program management

Nicole Geller is a people person — at least when it comes to explaining the success of the company she founded and leads. Government Contract Solutions Inc. attained a compound annual growth rate of 82.45 percent over five years because of the abilities of her 250 employees, she said.

“Our people are just really passionate about helping our clients solve either straightforward or complex business challenges, and we’re really known for that,” said Geller, CEO of the company, which is based in McLean, Va. “Another piece is our subject-matter expertise, our domain expertise. We’ve really developed a pretty deep level of expertise over the last 15 years.”

The company, which handles acquisition life cycle management, contract support services, performance improvement consulting and program management services, was No. 40 on Washington Technology’s Fast 50 last year and is No. 35 this year. Its contracts with about 10 government agencies have contributed to the steady rise of GCS’ annual revenues. Between 2008 and 2009, for instance, the revenues jumped from $8.8 million to almost $20 million. Last year GCS’ revenues were $23 million.

That type of success in an unstable economy is remarkable — and some of the credit must go to GCS’ recent contract wins. For instance, the Agriculture Department’s U.S. Forest Service awarded the company more than $8.6 million in April 2009 to provide program and grants management in the distribution of more than $1 billion of stimulus funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

In September 2009, the General Services Administration’s Public Building Service awarded GCS nearly $2 million to provide program management expertise to its restoration of historic buildings in accordance with the National Historic Preservation Act and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

“LEED-certified contracting is really on the forefront of green contracting,” Geller said. “It really is an expertise, and I think we’re going to see quite a bit more of that kind of contracting.”

Even as government work contributes to GCS’ success, federal budget constraints are one of the company’s biggest challenges. The fiscal 2011 continuing resolution signed in April took a toll on many GCS customers, Geller said.

“Many of the government staff didn’t know if their own programs were going to be cut,” she said. “In the time that I’ve been running GCS, I can’t say I’ve seen a government staff as impacted as they were this year.”

As purse strings tighten, federal programs face greater scrutiny and risk losing funding. That makes customers hesitant to sign contracts, Geller said. But with those challenges come opportunities.

“Sometimes we’re able to help with that process and perhaps achieve savings,” she said of helping program managers better handle operations and reduce scrutiny. “I think it’s going to be fairly significant for next year.”

Other areas with growth potential include performance improvement consulting. A May memo from Daniel Gordon, administrator of the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Federal Procurement Policy, asks procurement officials to improve Federal Procurement Data System entries and plays to GCS’ expertise, Geller said. “We’ve actually been involved in that type of reporting — how do you report it, how do you get your data to be more accurate, those types of things,” she added.

Other areas with potential include program management at civilian agencies operating overseas because the work GCS does translates easily to international needs, Geller said.

“I think the combination of acquisition and program management services has really been a positive for a lot of our government customers who need to have a company that understands both pieces, that can bridge the gap between both areas in kind of a one-stop to get that expertise,” she said.

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