STG broadens its vision

When the Commerce Department's Commerce Information Technology Solutions (COMMITS) program was launched in 1999, STG Inc. definitely qualified as a small business. But with a worldwide enterprise bringing in $170 million and a workforce of 1,700, it seems the

concept of "small" has changed.

Phil Foote, STG's executive vice president, said those kinds of

numbers are deceiving. What was considered small 10 years ago, or even at the launch of COMMITS,

has little relevance to the current


Compared to the multibillion-

dollar "gorillas" that trudge across the federal procurement landscape today, he said, "anything south of $500 million a year is small."

Simon Lee, now the company's president and chief executive, founded STG in 1986. It operated well in the shadows of bigger firms until 1992, when the company worked as a subcontractor on a State Department contract. Agency officials recognized the good work the company had been doing and awarded it a separate contract for other work.

The $1.5 million it got from that deal allowed STG to hire 25 more people. The rest, they say, is history.

STG has ambitious plans. According to Foote, the intention is for the company to earn more than half a billion dollars a year in the next five years by focusing on such fast growing areas as homeland security and by broadening its range of services beyond information technology to fields such as applied sciences.

The company also is looking to expand its work in the commercial market. Foote said STG started that commercial push about three years ago but was hindered because of the collapse in the IT sector. With the economy showing signs of improvement, STG will try again, he said.

In the meantime, the company has a thriving government operation to attend to, and it's taking advantage of its COMMITS experience.

Lee believes that a small company needs to eventually compete in the broader world of full-and-open contracting if it is to develop beyond the confines of its relatively protected beginnings in the 8(a) program, which is a separate Small Business Administration program designed to promote the growth of small and economically disadvantaged businesses.

Participation on the COMMITS program will help with that. Besides the work it's brought to the company, COMMITS has also proven to be "an excellent training vehicle for STG on how to put together a competitive proposal," said Jim Ingram, the program manager who oversees STG's COMMITS activities.

"You basically have to go through the same steps as you do for a full-and-open competition," he said, even though the actual process is controlled through the COMMITS program office.

With the kinds of multiyear awards agencies are beginning to give to small businesses — such as the $53 million, seven-year Army Test and Evaluation Command contract STG received in August last year and a more recent $16.6 million five-year Commerce task order, both awarded through COMMITS — there's an obvious trend developing.

"In the past, agencies were leery of using small businesses," Ingram said. "Now, especially through the

COMMITS program, which puts

emphasis on past performance, they are starting to trust small companies to do the job."

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group