Anser Advisory makes a deal, creates 650-person firm

Anser Advisory has completed an acquisition of its own seven months after the company's private equity owner at the time was absorbed into another PE firm.

Sterling Investment Partners backed Anser's purchase of Markon Solutions, terms of which were not disclosed. But the companies said Oct. 12 that their combined enterprise will have more than 650 employees.

Markon will initially operate as a subsidiary of Anser. Over time, the companies intend to create a more fully-integrated organization under the Anser brand.

Sterling Investment Partners acquired Round Table Capital Partners in March, which then gave the former ownership of Anser.

With Markon, Anser is adding more expertise and customers in the federal market and particularly with the intelligence community. Markon also brings more of a presence in the Northern Virginia region. Anser has footprints in the aviation, transportation, water, education and energy sectors.

Markon provides services around acquisition, facilities, finance, security, technology and training. That company holds spots on the OASIS contract vehicle, GSA Schedule and Seaport-e.

Anser worked with financial adviser Houlihan Lokey and legal counsels Dechert LLP, Seyfarth Shaw LLP and Morrison & Foerster LLP.

Markon's advisers were KippsDeSanto & Co. on the financial aspects and Greenburg Traurig regarding the legal matters.

Posted on Oct 21, 2021 at 12:52 PM0 comments

Who were 2021's top Industry Innovators?

We are happy to announce the winners of the 2021 Industry Innovator Award winners who's creativity and imagination drive better results for their government customers.

government innovators

This year’s crop of winners highlight the growing use of leading edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, data analytics, cloud computing and cybersecurity that are helping agencies solve mission-critical problems and transform how they do business.

The 2021 Industry Innovator Award are part of a broader program known as the Government Innovation Awards, presented by Washington Technology and our sibling publications FCW, GCN and Defense Systems. You can see the 2021 Public Sector Innovations winners here. This award program recognizes government projects that highlight innovative uses of technology, and the 2021 Rising Stars, which recognizes individuals in their early phase of their careers, can be viewed here.

Together these programs are an opportunity to celebrate the many positive things taking place across the government market as individuals, public sector organizations and private companies work together to address some of society’s most pressing challenges.

The 2021 Industry Innovator Award winners are:

  • BeyondTrust and its Endpoint Privilege Management with BeyondInsight solution
  • Excella and its HHS Inspector General Grants Analytics Portal
  • cBEYONData and its CFO Control Tower
  • Aveshka Inc. and its Candor Platform for artificial intelligence
  • Iron Mountain for its Iron Mountain Insight for data analytics
  • CACI International for its laser communications transmitters and modems
  • Intelligent Waves LLC and its GRAYPATH secure communications solution.
  • ID Technologies and Archon, a device security solution

Look for more coverage in the coming weeks as we dive deeper into each of those Industry Innovators to learn more about their solutions.

Posted on Oct 20, 2021 at 1:11 PM0 comments

Former HHS CIO shares COVID-19 lessons learned

It’s easy to focus on the many things that have gone wrong during the COVID-19 pandemic: issues with supply chains, the divisiveness and weaknesses it exposed with our health and educational systems.

But for Perryn Ashmore, the pandemic has exposed some great strengths that often get lost. Ashmore was chief information officer for the Health and Human Services Department during the pandemic's height.

“The federal collaboration was amazing,” Ashmore said at our WT Power Breakfast on Friday discussing HHS. “This was a whole of government response.”

For example, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (part of the Homeland Security Department) began working with HHS to get critical supplies to hospitals. HHS is now working with over 6,000 hospitals in over 3,000 counties.

At HHS, there was a unified effort from the secretary’s office to the budget office to senior procurement officials as the most federated department had to set up systems, share information and collaborate. Stealing the phrase from a colleague, Ashmore called it “pulling modernization forward.”

HHS created an employee portal for all of the department that includes the Food & Drug Administration, Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Public Health Service.

“This was one of the first times we did something where employees from across the department could ask us questions,” Ashmore said.

HHS approached its response to the pandemic and its impact on operations from a risk perspective, which meant IT leadership had to work closely with the business leadership, Ashmore said.

“We documented everything from a risk perspective,” he said. “What’s the risk here? How should we approach this? Hey, what could happen here and let’s talk about that.”

The lesson for Ashmore is that the government and its industry partners can deliver and deliver quickly.

“And substantive stuff. Not just a website, but data platforms, modeling platforms, artificial intelligence, communications,” he said.

Ashmore sees collaboration as one of the great strengths of the pandemic response, but also put it at the top of his list as an area to focus on going forward, particularly what he calls electronic collaboration.

“We've all built security into our individual solutions so much so that collaborating across government on the shared platform was really difficult,” he said.

Simple things such as Microsoft Teams web conferences across departments can be a heavy lift, he said. Each agency allows different things in their environment. At times, HHS and its government and private sector partners built systems just to get around those roadblocks.

Ashmore left HHS in May and joined Oracle in September. While he’s six months removed from HHS, he said the department’s focus on its modernization roadmaps from a cloud perspective will continue. But the focus on cyber will continue to grow as it will across government. Things like-two factor authentication sound simple but aren't.

“You are going to see all the departments on the civilian side wrestle with how to make that happen,” he said. “What does it mean to be zero trust? What does that roadmap look like? What does it mean to have a zero data loss target? That’s where the departments are going.”

As industry approaches the government with their solutions, the pitch should focus on a few simple concepts.

“It’s got to be a discussion about what is this going to save me -- cost avoidance, time, people, energy, whatever it might be,” Ashmore said.

“Then how does it get back to the American people? That's what industry has to do.”

Posted on Oct 19, 2021 at 3:03 PM0 comments

Deloitte protest leads to seat on $250M Navy program

Deloitte Consulting’s protest of a $250 million Navy contract to modernize management of its weapons and ordinance supply chain has paid off.

The Navy added Deloitte as an awardee alongside three other companies that were the original winners: McKinsey & Co., BCG Federal and Grant Thornton

After the first awards, Deloitte filed its protest challenging the evaluation process the Navy used.

The Navy agreed to take a second look at Deloitte’s evaluation after seeing the protest. That second look led the Navy to add Deloitte to the contract.

Awardees will compete for task orders for strategic services to help transform logistics operations, supply chain, and technology across the enterprise.

The contract will run through March 2027 if all options are exercised.

Posted on Oct 18, 2021 at 6:11 PM0 comments

General Dynamics challenges rival's $2.7B cloud migration win

Earlier this month, Peraton landed a big fish by winning a potential $2.7 billion cloud migration services contract at the Homeland Security Department.

Now an unsuccessful bidder has filed a protest to no surprise. General Dynamics IT is arguing that the evaluation was unfair and that GDIT would have one if the evaluation was conducted properly.

The $2.7 billion Data Center and Cloud Optimization Support Services contract has a 10-year performance period if all options are exercised.

More protests are possible as GDIT and Peraton are just two of seven bidders. The former Perspecta submitted a proposal for the DCCO contract before that company was absorbed into Peraton in May.

DHS currently has two main data centers that house its IT and data assets -- Data Center 1 and Data Center 2.

The agency's plan is to first migrate everything in Data Center 1 into a new hybrid cloud computing environment, then turn to Data Center 2 and do the same. The current contracts are held by GDIT for Data Center 1 and Peraton/Perspecta on Data Center 2.

DHS envisions that environment as including a data center, colocation sites, and access to commercial and private cloud services. That is a direction other agencies are considering, which makes the DCCO competition one of the bigger opportunities to hit the market and the winner an advantage for future contracts like it.

GDIT filed its protest on Oct 12 and a decision is expected on Jan. 20.

Posted on Oct 18, 2021 at 5:43 PM0 comments

DISA to rethink $600M communications award

DISA is apparently rethinking a $600 million contract for communications support after it was hit by several bid protests by disappointed bidders.

The agency first awarded the contract to Trace Systems to provide support under a contract called Communications Technical Support Services – Southwest Asia, which will primarily support the Air Force.

One issue DISA is trying to address is the challenge of Air Force personnel rotating in and out every six months. A long-term communications contract would provide stability to support Operation Resolute Support and Inherent Resolve in Southwest Asia, including the fight against terrorist organizations such as ISIS, according to solicitation documents collected by GovTribe.

The winning contractor will provide telephone switch operations and maintenance, satellite communications, network administration, communications security, and video teleconferencing. There also are several task areas including program and project management, communications engineering, cyber systems operations, and logistics.

Trace won the contract in early September. Protests followed from General Dynamics IT, Vectrus and Salient CRGT. All three claimed that the evaluation was unreasonable.

DISA has decided to re-evaluate the proposals and revisit its selection decision. The agency apparently saw something in the protests that made them realize they likely made a mistake.

No word on when DISA will make a new decision. It usually takes several months.

Posted on Oct 17, 2021 at 6:21 AM0 comments

DOD starts to develop inspector general IT contract

The Defense Department is looking to bolster the IT capabilities of the inspector general’s office.

new sources sought notice explains how DOD is looking to see if there are small businesses that could provide the services. If enough small businesses respond and they have the right capabilities, the contract will likely become a small business competition.

The contract will cover networks and IT support services such as maintenance and operations, installation, and support for IT systems and communications for 1,800 users in the DOD IG's office.

Because of how the IG operates independently, it needs the full spectrum of IT support services -- network security, infrastructure, enterprise architecture, information governance and business system development. The IG also will need unified communications, asset management, project management, budget and help desk.

The IG’s office also provides applications and services to the armed services and combatant command IG offices. This contract will support that work as well.

Respondents to the notice should describe their experience and capabilities in the following areas:

  • Systems design and engineering support
  • Application development
  • Cybersecurity
  • Enterprise architecture
  • Data visualization and dashboard services
  • Original Equipment Manufacturer proprietary product engineer for commercial tools -- Vormetric, TeamMate, Cloudera, Tableau, Footprings, F5, Forcepoint and others.
  • Defense Case Activity Systems, Enterprise

Potential bidders will also need a Top Secret Facility Clearance and be a Microsoft Gold Partner.

Responses are due Oct. 28.

Posted on Oct 15, 2021 at 12:18 PM0 comments

CMS unveils final solicitation for training contract

As we reported would happen earlier this week, has released the final solicitation for a small business contract to acquire training and content development services in support of personnel working at CMS call centers.

Known as the CMS Contact Center Training and Content or CTC contract, the vehicle will likely be a single award. But CMS has said it reserved the right to make the vehicle a multiple-award contract. There is no cost estimate yet for the contract.

Proposals are due Nov. 19.

CMS wants to hire a contractor to develop and maintain training content and materials for CMS customer service representatives at its 1-800-MEDICARE call center and the call center for the health insurance exchange.

Contact center representatives have a wide range of scripts the use to help calls. There are 44 different topic areas that include the appeals process, home health, hospice, medical necessity, eligibility and enrollment, and referrals.

The awardee would provide services around content development, training, continuous improvement, and program management.

CMS is using a two phase evaluation format. In phase one, bidders would submit information on their experience and answer training and content challenges.

Bidders that CMS determines have a chance to win the contract will move to phase two. Those companies then submit their technical proposals, staffing and management approaches, past performance, and cost models.

The contract will have a one-year base with four one-year options.

Posted on Oct 14, 2021 at 12:21 PM0 comments

8(a) firm enters the acquisition game

Newly-minted 8(a) companies aren’t widely known as active acquirers of other businesses in the federal market, but the Strategic Innovation Group stands out here and could be setting a new standard.

The company gained its 8(a) status in July and now has closed its purchase of fellow small business 3e Services LLC. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Strategic Innovation Group was founded last year Vikram Agarwal, who left behind a real estate and law career to launch a government contracting firm. His law career had a government contracting focus, among other areas.

SIG offers a variety of technical and professional services including legal and financial services, digital transformation support and software development.

The addition of 3e grows SIG's portfolio of strategic and technology consulting services and particularly around cloud transformation, governance strategy, DevSecOps, enterprise operations. The Federal Aviation Administration is a major customer of 3e.

Posted on Oct 14, 2021 at 1:21 PM0 comments

Protest trouble hits these TSA test, evaluation awards

The Transportation Security Administration’s plan to award a pair of blanket purchase agreements for test and evaluation support has run off-course as several losing bidders have filed protests.

TSA made one small business set-aside award to Analytical Services & Materials, while a second in the unrestricted track went to Science Applications International Corp.

Battelle Memorial Institute has since filed a protest against the award to SAIC.

Joint Research and Development Inc. and Global Systems Technologies are protesting the award to Analytical Services. All three protestors are arguing that TSA didn’t conduct a proper evaluation of proposals.

TSA is using the General Services Administration's Schedules program for these BPAs, which seek support for operational testing and evaluation and acceptance testing. Those are processes for evaluating and fielding security equipment that TSA relies on to do its mission.

The award to SAIC is worth up to $110 million, while the Analytical Services BPA has an $81 million ceiling value.

The Government Accountability Office is expected to issue decisions by Jan. 18.

Posted on Oct 13, 2021 at 1:59 PM0 comments

CMS plans small business contract for call centers

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services is working on a new small business contract for training and other services to support its call center operations.

In a request for information, CMS describes how its two call centers field nearly 42 million calls a year nationwide. One call center is known as 1-800-MEDICARE and the second is for the health insurance marketplace.

The contact centers are open all day day and handle multiple channels including phone calls, emails and web chats. The centers provide information to help citizens manage aspects of their health care including benefits, health plan options and then enrolling in plans.

The contract will likely be for one-year with four one-year options. CMS describes it as a full-and-open competition that is set-aside for small businesses.

The solicitation is expected to be released this week. There is no estimated value on GovTribe or Deltek, nor does there appear to be an incumbent contractor.

We’ll update this post once the solicitation is available.

Posted on Oct 12, 2021 at 1:48 PM0 comments