A Bellevue information technology contractor's move to Washington, D.C., could result in more jobs back home in Nebraska, its president and chief executive officer said Tuesday.
Lisa Wolford said relocating her firm's headquarters to the nation's capital will help CSSS.NET build relationships with the government agencies she hopes to do business with, including a growing focus on civilian agencies as well as the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs work that has been the firm's bread and butter.
Making its existing Washington office the headquarters does not mean the firm is leaving Nebraska, said Wolford, an Omaha native who maintains a home at Beaver Lake and whose adult children live here. The Bellevue office will be the firm's “operations center,” housing finance functions, contract management, and some human resources functions.
No Nebraska employees are being transferred, but there are job openings in both offices: 25 in Washington and 30 in Nebraska. The firm has a total of 150 employees in 20 states. Wolford envisions CSSS.NET employing as many as 1,000 people five years from now.
The firm had $20 million in revenue in 2012 and Wolford said that while she couldn't give details, she has “exciting things” coming for the company in terms of new contracts and other opportunities.
She said “sequestration” budget cuts hit the Department of Defense market, one reason for the push to work with government offices like the Environmental Protection Agency, Internal Revenue Service, Department of Agriculture and Small Business Administration.
CSSS.NET is also one of several area businesses that lost employees in recent years amid a Department of Defense move to hire contractors' employees as full-time government workers. Wolford said the insourcing affected her Bellevue and Washington, D.C., offices and was not a factor in the headquarters move.
“Right now, the spending trend is higher in the civilian marketplace,” Wolford said. “We're able to bring the lessons that we learned in critical missions systems support for national defense systems to our civilian agency customers.”
One recent contract “win” was for services at the USDA's National Information Technology Center, one way the government is moving toward cloud computing, Wolford said. That shift can be a cultural challenge as well as a technological challenge as workers adjust to having applications or data “in the cloud.”
“We're helping our customer organizations migrate to that, and make that change, and understand that what they're fighting is a culture change and not necessarily a technology issue.”
She said there is also a growing need for cybersecurity protection, for example at the IRS related to its role under the federal health care law, the Affordable Care Act.
Wolford, 52, joined the Marine Corps at age 20, serving as a field radio operator. She later graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and started the firm in 1997.
“D.C. is where I can grow my business,” she said. “I want my customers to understand that I'm committed to the federal marketplace.”