Objectivity hawkish on security clearances

Hawk Technical Solutions has security clearances and Objectivity wants them. The two companies recently formed a partnership to get a slice of the market growing up around the government's demand for technology solutions that can organize and search through large amounts of interrelated data.

Hawk Technical Solutions is a small integrator that was created specifically to pursue business in the intelligence community. The company has four employees with security clearances and the technical expertise to learn how to implement and use Objectivity's data-management product. The partnership is not set up to go after specific federal contracts but rather to respond to the government's growing requirements for data management.

"Objectivity's technology is new to the Defense Department," said Wendi Hawk, chief executive officer of Hawk Technical Solutions. "DOD has been slow to adopt it, so we're meeting needs as they come."

Objectivity's database product manages and analyzes large volumes of data for event and relationship processing. The name stems from the object-oriented technology that the company's products are built around. Through the partnership, Objectivity employees will train Hawk's staff on Objectivity's database management technology.

"We train them in an unclassified conference room, and they go into the cleared areas to do the real work," said Jay Jarrell, president and chief executive officer of Objectivity, which has two employees with clearances. "We don't focus our business that much on doing a lot of body shop work or consulting work in the federal area."

Objectivity's ongoing strategy of forming partnerships to expand its reach has led to a robust federal business, Jarrell said. It currently accounts for 58 percent of the company's revenues. The company has been successful in turning potential competitors into allies, too. He added that defense contractors would rather get trained on Objectivity's database technology than compete against the company for consulting work.

"We don't take away contractors' cleared consulting work," Jarrell said. "Our profit margin and the ability to grow our business is more dynamic and quicker by using consulting partnerships."

Government security clearances have been a particular challenge for information technology defense contractors, especially as the amount of intelligence work has increased since the 2001 terrorist attacks. It can take a year or 18 months for an individual to get a clearance, with each agency having different clearance requirements. Some government work is out of reach to contractors that don't have enough employees with the right clearances.

Companies have been recruiting cleared employees from their competitors or simply acquiring companies to get large batches of workers with security clearances, said Chip Mather, senior vice president of Acquisition Solutions, a consulting firm in Oakton, Va.

"Companies are raiding from each other and not so much teaming," he said. "They're buying to get those clearances and paying huge premiums for them."

Jarrell said the partnership with Hawk Technical Solutions was also attractive to Objectivity because of the executives' experience at their former employers and the company's knowledge of the intelligence community. Jarrell had worked with Wendi Hawk when she was at Conquest, an enterprise architecture, systems engineering and software technology solutions firm acquired by Boeing in 2003.

"What we're offering is people who can follow the technology and help it succeed in many areas," Hawk said. "It's a slightly different model than just being an integrator contractor." n

Anderson is a business writer in Arlington, Va. She can be reached at tania.anderson@verizon.net.

Just the facts

Objectivity

Headquarters: Sunnyvale, Calif.

Business: Developer of data- management products for complex, interrelated data

Founded: 1988

Employees: 50

URL: www.objectivity.com

Hawk Technical Solutions

Headquarters: Ellicott City, Md.

Business: Software vendor to the intelligence community

Founded: 2004

Employees: Four

URL: www.hawkts.com

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