Was Salient's acquisition of ATSC a winner?
- By David Hubler
- Apr 09, 2012
Salient Federal Solutions’ acquisition of ATS Corp. for $73 million was completed at the start of April, but Salient CEO Brad Antle had known ATSC founder Ed Bersoff for some time and admired how he had put the company together.
“Certainly ATSC was not on the horizon when we started Salient but as we started to grow and [expand] our focus, being principally defense and intelligence, it was obvious to us that we needed to strengthen our exposure to the fed civil side of the house,” Antle explained.
“ATSC was one of the rare SPACs [special purpose acquisition companies] in the government market,” he said. “When it became known to me that ATSC was looking at strategic alternatives, we started taking a closer look.”
Antle said he believes his relationship with Bersoff “got us to the [negotiating] table,” but “we were one of many that were considered as potential acquirers.”
Nevertheless, he said, Salient might have had one slight edge in that the two companies were complementary with no overlap of clients.
Also, “we didn’t have a seat on Alliant, so that provided incentive for us,” Antle said, referring to GSA’s $50 billion governmentwide acquisition contract, issued in 2009.
In addition, ATSC had a strong, 30-year relationship with the Housing and Urban Development Department and other civilian agencies.
“So there was a lot that was very attractive about ATSC to us,” Antle said.
The acquisition not only brought Salient a number of new GWACs, including Alliant and the Army HR Solutions vehicle. ATSC’s 400 employees have expanded the company to about 1,100 employees.
One result of that growth has been Salient’s prompt creation of the Civilian Mission Critical Solutions business unit.
“That particular unit is going to focus on software solutions for particular civilian clients,” he said. “Some of the big clients we service there are HUD, the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation and a lot of Agile software development” clients.
In addition, the acquisition will give Salient’s law enforcement unit access to ATSC’s BorderNet work for the Homeland Security Department, he said.
Antle added that Salient’s newly created internal Agile Center of Excellence, also augmented by the ATSC workforce, combined with Salient’s CMMI discipline and Agile Software development methodology, will give the company the ability to quickly put a focused, responsive IT team to work finding solutions for clients.
Unlike the more widely used practice of throwing a large and costly number of workers at a customer, Antle said, “which winds up costing a lot and may not achieve optimal results, our desire is really to bring in the team that’s needed when it’s needed. And only for the time it’s needed.”
Antle envisions the Agile Center of Excellence as both a resource to manage agile software across programs and a facility where Salient employees can stay current on training and certification, and where new employment candidates can be screened.
Finally, by incorporating some former ATSC components, Salient has broadened its intelligence and law enforcement business unit, Antle said, into a software and engineering center of excellence for agencywide IT infrastructure, cloud computing and large-scale systems integration.
David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.