$50 million deal extends RSIS reach into government

"We went from being a big fish in a small pond to being a minnow in the ocean. Now, we're more selective about which contracts we go after." ? Rodney Hunt, RSIS

Ricky Carioti

RS Information Systems Inc. has captured one of the first information services jobs for a young federal tax agency, winning a contract valued at nearly $50 million to provide technology support services to the Treasury Department's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

Under the contract, RSIS of McLean, Va., will assist the tax bureau's Office of the Chief Information Officer with networks, servers and databases as well as software engineering and maintenance. RSIS has opened an office for its 30 engineers and personnel directly across from the tax bureau in Washington.

"It's a new agency with a lot of potential," said Rodney Hunt, RSIS president and chief executive. "They have a lot of confidence in us because we've worked there before."

RSIS assisted early in the tax bureau's transition when the former Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was split in two. The company provided database applications, help desk services and installation of data storage capacity, Hunt said. To strengthen homeland security, the firearms and explosives units are now part of the Justice Department.

Founded 13 years ago as a minority-owned small business, RSIS has grown rapidly and had revenue of $321 million in 2004.

The new award is the latest in a string of government IT awards for the privately held RSIS. The company has technical services contracts with dozens of federal agencies, including $409 million with the Energy Department, awarded in 2003; $48 million with the National Weather Service, in 2003; and $22 million with Veterans Affairs, awarded in 2004.

As a top performer in the Small Business Administration's certification program, RSIS grew too large to qualify for small business status as of January 2003. Now the company often competes against many companies larger than itself.

"We went from being a big fish in a small pond to being a minnow in the ocean," Hunt said. "We're more selective about which contracts we go after."

With the retirement of RSIS co-founder W. Scott Amey earlier this year -- Scott is the "S" in RS Information Services -- Hunt is moving forward on his own, expecting sales of $370 million for 2005. He also is considering a public offering and acquisitions.

"I would love to take this company public," Hunt said, "but I need to decide if I want to be answerable to Wall Street."

RSIS ranks No. 36 on Washington Technology's 2005 Top 100 list of federal prime contractors. For more Top 100 coverage, turn to page 24.

Staff Writer Alice Lipowicz can be reached at alipowicz@postnewsweektech.com.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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