GovCon Awards Nominee Acentia: Employee Engagement and Target Growth Areas

Acentia team members and 5K participants

WashingtonExec GovCon Awards Series:

The finalists for this year’s Greater Washington Government Contractor Awards were announced last month, and as promised, WashingtonExec is bringing you its annual series with GovCon Award nominees all this month before the winners are unveiled November 1.

The winners will be announced at the annual gala at Marriott Wardman Park hotel in Washington, D.C., and the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, Professional Services Council (PSC) and Washington Technology magazine will present the awards. With over 1,300 business and public sector leaders attending the event, our series will keep you up to date with all the finalists for this year—who they are, what they do, and why they are worthy of winning.

Today’s insight is from Acentia, nominated as Contractor of the Year in the $75-$300 million division.

WashingtonExec: How do you differentiate your company from its competitors? What is unique about your approach?

Acentia: We are not satisfied with the status quo. When we established the Acentia brand in 2011, we embarked on a journey backed by clear statements for our mission, vision and values. By bringing together and integrating nine legacy companies to form Acentia, we unified behind the clear and compelling vision that what we do for our government customers is “Essential to the Mission”. To realize our potential and ensure our success, we reached out to all levels of the company to fully engage our team.

Today we are a trusted partner to CIOs and senior leaders in government agencies through our program-level relationships and our Centers of Excellence (COEs) which provide domain-specific knowledge and research independent of our on-site project teams. Our COEs formalize cutting-edge methodology and best practices focused on areas that pose the greatest challenge and opportunity for our customers.

Our investment in a Strategy & Solutions team, composed of recognized technical leaders, promotes innovation and customer collaboration though best practices and repeatable solutions. We also built a world-class Program Management Office focused on customer success. Our PMO governs, measures and continually improves our technical, quality and process expertise. Acentia is one of only a few companies certified under ISO 20000 and ISO 9001 and CMMI Level 3 for Development and Services, a significant accomplishment that many companies ten times our size have not achieved.


“We are not satisfied with the status quo. When we established the Acentia brand in 2011—bringing together and integrating nine legacy companies to form one company unified behind the clear and compelling vision that what we do for our government customers is “Essential to the Mission”—we embarked on a journey backed by clear statements for our mission, vision and values.”


WashingtonExec: How have you grown the company as the government asks the private sector to “do more with less?”

Acentia: Acentia has exploited our deep domain experience in Science, Education, Health, National Security, Financial Services, Transportation and Labor. Over the past year, we grew existing contracts and won new business focused on IT service management, enterprise integration, mobility, collaboration, and informatics. We strengthened our presence within the federal marketplace through the acquisition and integration of two companies that were focused in the Healthcare IT industry.

WashingtonExec: What is the fastest growing component of your business?

Acentia: It’s tempting to talk about one sector over another, or one solution versus another. Certainly Health IT is a big focus. There are a number of exciting technical growth areas for Acentia, including cloud computing and modernization, data center consolidation, mobility, collaboration and big data.

For Acentia, our growth can be attributed to all of these and more. Our most visible component is a paradigm shift from O&M support of customer infrastructure components to high value support of programs that are mission-critical to our customers and have real and positive impact on the American taxpayer.

Stephanie Wilson, Senior VP of Health IT, and her daughter

Acentia: Acentia’s has a robust recruiting engine that begins with clearly defined job requirements’ definition and anticipates where qualified employees currently work and what they are looking for in a new environment. We leverage a dedicated in-house team and a balanced blend of external sourcing channels. We have a deep bench, and we pre-qualify hires to minimize on-boarding time. Our model reaches far beyond base compensation and considers on-the-job challenges; bonuses and incentives; recognition; benefits; and quality of work life. We have a corporate culture that fosters professional and personal development; recognizes employee merit; provides opportunities to advance; recognizes and rewards employee performance that exceeds expectations; and provides meaningful mission-critical work that contributes to job satisfaction.

All Acentia staff have 24/7 access to “Acentia University” to advance knowledge and professional development and to support customers through a diverse library of technical and management content. We also sponsor an innovative program called Technical Fellows that promotes professional development, peer networking, industry collaboration, and thought leadership to ensure advanced subject matter expert (SME) support for customers. These retention drivers keep our attrition rate at well below the industry average.

WashingtonExec: What is your corporate culture? How do you maintain satisfied employees?

Acentia: We aspire to be a “best place to work” and constantly review our environment and benefits to ensure we are on track.

“Employee satisfaction surveys are just one component of our measurement. In 2011, we implemented a “paid furlough” policy for our employees who otherwise would have faced significant financial hardship during a potential government shutdown.”


We launched “Acentia University,” providing access to online courses and industry training experts as well as participation in technical certification programs. Our program also provides education/training tuition benefits to pay for degree or technical and management certification programs.

Recently we implemented a Recognition and Rewards Program to acknowledge technical and business excellence on a quarterly basis and reward employees, both individually and as part of team, with significant bonuses. We also established the Acentia Leadership Competency Model to ensure the development of future leaders and successful succession planning.

Overall, Acentia looks for opportunities to engage with employees and create a fun environment. In 2012, we sponsored a 5K run/walk with Falls Church High School and encouraged our employees to participate. After the event, we celebrated with awards, food, and pictures!

WashingtonExec: Does your company have a Bring Your Own Device Policy (BYOD)? What has been your largest challenge with this policy? How is the “mobile workforce” changing the way you conduct business within your company and with the Federal Government?

Acentia: Mobility & Collaboration is one of our six Centers of Excellence, so the planning and execution of a mobility strategy within our internal environment is seamless one for us. BYOD has been a very positive experience, and it presents an enormous opportunity for the federal workforce. It is not without challenges; however, our effort to tailor plans and policies has accelerated customer deployment.

WashingtonExec recently interviewed Tom Woteki, Senior Vice President and Architect at Acentia, about why mobility is changing applications development.

WashingtonExec: How is your company involved in the community?

Acentia: The Acentia Leadership Competency Model is based on authentic leadership—being the same leader whether in the office or in the community. This model inspires our employees to work hard for our customers and willingly serve the community. Acentia leaders and employees are actively involved in civic engagement.

Acentia contributes a sizable amount to a variety of charitable and civic organizations via either corporate sponsorships or matched dollars, including the Child Rescue Centre, Life with Cancer, Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Starlight Children’s Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, the Boy Scouts of America, Virginia Business Higher Education Council – Grow By Degrees, and Falls Church High School. The company actively supports employee-led charitable affiliations by matching funds raised, providing communications support, and encouraging hands-on employee engagement.

Acentia leaders also serve on a number of Boards, giving their time to raise funds, chair committees, and provide business leadership.

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