FAST 50: B3 bets on big IDIQ and wins

B3 Group had just seven employees when it bid on VA's $21 billion T4NG contract and that successful bid has made a huge difference for the company.

The past year has been pivotal for the B3 Group, a service-disabled, veteran-owned health IT company that supports the Veterans Affairs Department through six main capabilities.

What started in 2008 as a one-man shop now employs about 220 people – 100 of whom joined the small business in 2017, a year after the company was one of 21 to win a prime spot on VA’s $21 billion Transformation Twenty-One Total Technology Program Next Generation (T4NG) contract.

The company is ranked No. 15 on the Washington Technology 2018 Fast 50.

“We had seven employees at the time” of bidding in 2015, said Dwight Hunt, the company’s president and CEO. “We said, ‘You know what? We’re going to go after it.’ We closed our eyes and swung hard. We were awarded the contract in March of 2016.”

Since then, VA has tapped B3 for several projects under T4NG, including a $21.7 million task order the department awarded in May for support of its Office of Information and Technology, Information Technology and Operations, and another contract to design, develop and test application enhancements.

Hunt attributes the win on the indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract partly to his experience with acquisitions in the Army and Defense Acquisition University, and Chief Operating Officer Brad Palmer’s intimate knowledge of VA.

But he attributes the company’s overall success to its tenacity. “We never saw a task order we didn’t want to do a little bit of work on,” Hunt said. “We’ve always taken the approach that no task order is too small. Priming is great, but if someone calls us to sub, being a subcontractor to someone else is not beneath us. It’s work, and that’s a partner and a relationship you’re creating with someone that may lead to something else.”

That “anything goes” approach had its downsides, however. Specifically, it made B3 unsure of its own identity. Two incidents helped the company narrow its scope: the T4NG win and a June 2016 Supreme Court decision that requires VA to apply the “rule of two” for veteran-owned small businesses on contracting awards.

“Now we have synergy,” Hunt said. Its six main service areas are acquisition support, clinical and health IT, infrastructure support, program management support, software engineering, and training.

Whether Hunt and his team are considering new-hires, new partners or a bid, they take a strategic rather than “dollars and cents” approach, he said. “On a project, when things are going good, it’s going really good, but every now and then a project has a little bit of a hiccup and you’ve got to be on a team with people you can have difficult phone calls with sometimes,” Hunt said. Plus, “the world is so small in federal contracting that you never know who you know, and what they know, and how that all rolls out down the road.”

With B3’s identity crisis solved, Hunt is looking to the future. In terms of technology, he’s watching Salesforce and VA’s use of electronic health records – “technologies that the VA is using or could use in the future and making sure that we become subject-matter experts and/or providers of those technologies moving forward,” he said.

To broaden its portfolio, the company has partnered with other firms. For example, it partnered with Cognitive Medical System and Motive Medical Intelligence to win a $22 million VA clinical decision support contract in April 2017.

Now, Hunt is looking to diversify B3’s client roster by applying the company’s expertise to other government agencies’ needs. “We are going to focus on the VA. It’s what we do very well,” he said. “However, as we keep building our capabilities out and they’re better defined, now we have a story for other federal agencies.”