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June 25, 2008




We continue our latest tech roundtable at Morton’s on Leesburg Pike in Tysons with:

  • Angela Drummond, CEO of SiloSmashers
  • Deepak Hathiramami, CEO of Visitronix
  • Bob Dinkel, President and COO of FedResults

Special thanks to great sponsors John Chierichella of law firm Sheppard Mullin and Jude Collins and William Tidwell of commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield.


Deepak Hathiramami, right, heads Visitronix, a federal systems integrator specializing in information management, infrastructure support and geospatial services. It’s got 270 employees and does $30 million in revenue.

Bisnow: We always hear about the shortage of employees because of security clearances. Does the shortage drive up labor rates?
Angela: Labor rates are raising our bid to the government, but the government doesn’t seem to care.
Deepak: It’s a supply and demand issue, so people with the appropriate clearances can pretty much name their salaries. And companies are paying for it, because they have no other option. It takes 12–24 months to get a top secret clearance, and that’s a big issue.

And how long are they good for?

Deepak: Every five years unless you do something stupid.
John: When my clearance is renewed, the person who interviews me is usually not a government employee. They’re a contractor employed to find out what deep dark secrets may disqualify me.
Bob: And yet even with all the contractors, they can’t keep pace. All you have to do is open the trade literature. Every six months there’s a lead story about problems in processing of clearances.

There’s another problem, too—if somebody is pulled off of a contract that doesn’t require a clearance, they immediately lose their clearance.

Bob: That’s where the small company has a huge disadvantage, because the large companies can move people around and compensate for all kinds of downtime.
Angela: And then there are the benefits that keep going up as well.

Hey Jude! (How many times do you think Jude Collins has heard that? Probably a few million.).  


Does the government help out?

Angela: Well, the government rates aren’t going up with the market. It becomes difficult to really get the right bid on a job because these costs must be taken into account. With budgets declining we’re seeing bigger companies going after our type of work that years ago they wouldn’t have touched. They can beat us on price every time and because they have more people they can absorb the cost.
Jude: It’s a sign of the times, and William and I are seeing it in our industry. Before, a client looking for half a floor might have met with two or three people, but now they’re meeting with six, seven, even nine firms before making a choice. It slows everything down.

Are there many new workers wanting clearances because they see it’s a good career?

Angela: Yes, but there are a limited number who actually qualify, and many of them do not want to go to the trouble of getting one. It’s a hassle, so we have to entice them, because it’s a difficult world to be in.

David Stegon is going to the NVTC’s Hot Ticket Awards TONIGHT! Talk to him there or contact him at David@Bisnow.com or 703-674-7718 with story ideas.

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