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Booz Allen’s Greg Wenzel Details Engineering, Digital Services Push Through Aquilent Buy

Booz Allen Hamilton‘s (NYSE: BAH) pending $250 million purchase of Laurel, Maryland-based cloud computing and digital services contractor Aquilent represents a selective entry into the GovCon acquisition landscape for a firm as it has made five purchases.

McLean, Virginia-based Booz Allen largely sat out of last year’s large deal activity that reshaped the government technology services sector as the firm viewed neither possibility as a good fit into its “Vision 2020” strategy that includes digital as a key area of focus, Finance Chief Lloyd Howell said Wednesday at a Credit Suisse-hosted investor conference.

Leidos Holdings (NYSE: LDOS) doubled in scale to $10 billion through its merger into the former Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) services segment, while CSRA (NYSE: CSRA) formed one year ago out of the combination between the former Computer Sciences Corp. (NYSE: CSC) North American government business with SRA International.

Aquilent presents a “selective” opportunity for Booz Allen to become a single source for agencies to tap into for both the firm’s heritage management consulting and strategy-related work along with specialized information technology staffers, Booz Allen Executive Vice President Greg Wenzel has told GovCon Wire.

Booz Allen expects to add $30 million-$35 million in revenue following the deal’s closure for its 2017 fiscal year ending March 31 from Aquilent.

Greg Wenzel

Wenzel, who leads Booz Allen’s digital services business, said Aquilent will add approximately 350 engineers and developers on top of the 300 brought in upon the 2015 purchase of Charleston, S.C.-based agile software development company SPARC to create an IT workforce of almost 4, 000 staffers.

Aquilent will function as Booz Allen’s Laurel-based digital services hub as part of the latter’s larger Digital Solutions Network in addition to the Charleston center.

“We’ve been coupling the understanding of our clients’ missions and augmenting our engineering and digital technology professionals over the last couple of years. We found Aquilent’s design of their company as similar to our digital solutions team, “ Wenzel added.

“You don’t hear about us doing a lot of acquisitions as the main thing here is to be selective in what we’re going after. It’s about where we can get those individuals that match with our ‘Vision 2020’ initiative in areas where we need the talent base.”

Aquilent acted as lead website designer for the Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Postal Service and General Services Administration with a focus on agile development and open source approaches to IT projects Wenzel termed as “modular” versus the traditional waterfall method at agencies.

“The days of ‘big bang, ‘ large and monolothic IT are going away as the digital ecosystem involves more smaller, networked items to create IT solutions. We now know how to break up the projects into smaller parts and make the systems work in weeks, ” Wenzel said.

Aquilent’s work on the user experience in government website development relies on that agile approach through a combination of “art and science” work to engineer new digital offerings and get new tools to agencies at a faster pace, he added.

“Agile has been around for years with everyone trying to achieve that nirvana and now with the emergence of DevOps processes of continuous development and integration, that’s where we’re starting to see the nirvana of agile at reality.

“As with Booz Allen, Aquilent has some great innovations in this area that we can leverage into the greater Digital Solutions Network to achieve greater scale.”

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