Small business ‘ingenuity’ is key for nearly $5B NOVASTAR award, one winner says

When five prime contractors share a nearly $5 billion government contract, the rewards are substantial.

The Department of Defense recently named five companies, all with a presence in the Dayton area, as winners sharing the NOVASTAR $4.79 billion award, consolidating 20 previous intelligence analysis service contracts with fewer vendors, all serving the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

“You can do the math,” said Michael Ronayne, director for Epsilon C5I intelligence services.

The NOVASTAR contract winners are: Altamira Technologies Corp; Epsilon Systems Solutions Inc.; Modern Technology Solutions; Radiance Technologies and Xandar LLC.

When Ronayne spoke with the Dayton Daily News, he said he was minutes away from signing a lease for new office space in Beavercreek as a result of the contract win.

San Diego-based Epsilon will “absolutely” be hiring in the Dayton area as a result of NOVASTAR, he said.

“We’re hiring right now,” he said. “We’ll probably be over 100 (Dayton-area) employees by the middle of the next year.”

He expects workers to work at NASIC on the base and at an off-base program management office.

Ronayne has a history among Dayton-area defense contractors. He stood up IAI’s (Integrity Applications Inc.) office with the three company-ATEP II contract in 2014 — a previous NASIC-focused contract, nearly $1 billion in size ― and grew that company’s presence around Wright-Patterson to about 220 people over the life of the ATEP contract.

IAI was sold to Centauri, which was purchased by KBR in 2020.

NASIC’s preference to go with small businesses for NOVASTAR was no accident, Ronayne believes.

“They bring the fresh expertise,” he said in an interview. “That’s the reason why I think Epsilon is pretty cool.”

“The small businesses worked, right?” he added. “ATEP II was successful. They (NASIC) feel they like they could do that … it’s always about ingenuity, the expertise.”

Messages seeking comment were sent to a NASIC representative for this story.

Businesses must respond quickly to NASIC’s needs, Ronayne said. “We can do that. Everybody makes the coffee here at small businesses. We’re not this huge, massive organization with all these structures and processes.”

Asked about the type of work his company will do, he referred to the DOD announcement.

The companies will serve NASIC’s requirements for “research, development, and sustainment of new and existing hardware, systems, and software capabilities enabling scientific and technical intelligence production for the Air Force, Department of Defense (DOD) and national-level intelligence efforts,” the Pentagon said.

“It’s really been NASIC’s mission over the years,” Ronayne said.

Although the DOD identified Xandar and Modern Technology Solutions (MTSI) as Virginia companies, Gerald “Jerry” Constable, senior proposal manager in defense and intel for KBR, noted that the winners all have a local presence. KBR has offices on Pentagon Boulevard in Beavercreek.

In fact, as two NASIC primes, KBR and its joint venture partner N-ask, already have a significant local presence, with over 500 combined employees in the Dayton area, said Eric Hildebrand, KBR senior director, technical intelligence.

“With NOVASTAR, we expect significant growth in new employees, ranging from junior staff via our intern programs to senior scientists that will be relocating to Dayton for the exciting and challenging work opportunities,” he said.

“We are thrilled to continue our long-lasting relationship with NASIC and look forward to bringing mission focused solutions. As a partner with NASIC, Altamira solves some of the nation’s hardest challenges,” Blaine Worthington, chief operating officer for Altamira, said in a release.

Bill Bailey, Radiance chief executive, said: “This is the culmination of 20 years of hard work by a lot of Radiance employee-owners with our customer, NASIC. Over those 20 years, our goal has simply been to provide NASIC the best support possible.”

The Air Force said the vendors were selected in a competitive process, with 10 bids being received.

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