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April 27, 2022 | Tom Ballard

IT Lab Partners LLC is a collaboration among several firms to provide IT support for ORNL

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Several years ago, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) announced plans to change staff augmentation services, consolidating many subcontracts into four Basic Ordering Agreements (BOAs).

For the average reader, both terms might not be part of your normal vocabulary. Staff augmentation refers to the process of engaging specialized knowledge workers for a short-term period of time when their expertise is required and not accessible internally. A BOA is somewhat similar to a Blanket Purchase Order, with which many readers are familiar, but differs in the sense that it is used when future requirements, such as number of temporary staff or specific areas of expertise, are uncertain.

In its solicitation, the lab sought proposals for support in: (1) project management and business services; (2) information technology; (3) engineering; and (4) science and technology.  The information technology BOA was a set-aside for a Service Disabled, Veteran-Owned Small Business.

Earlier this month, ORNL publicly announced the winners, and a joint venture named IT Lab Partners LLC was selected for the information technology BOA. ITLP, as the company is known, is comprised of XCEL Engineering, Information Technology Resources (ITR), and Cadre5.   XCEL Engineering being the Service Disabled, Veteran Owned Small Business.

ITLP joins three other local companies awarded BOAs:

  • Akima Infrastructure Services will provide project management and business services support;
  • GEM Technology International Corporation will provide engineering services support; and
  • STRATA-G LLC will provide support in the science and technology areas.

Working with ORNL is not a new experience for the three ITLP joint venture partners as we learned during a recent interview with their top executives: Joe Zimmerman, President of XCEL; Tim Campbell, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ITR; and Steve Hicks, President and CEO of Cadre5. Now, with a three-year, up to $25 million BOA, the three organizations are bringing their collective, but complementary expertise to the table as IT Lab Partners.

“All of us have done work for ORNL over the years,” Hicks said, noting that, in the case of Cadre5, the company was awarded its first ORNL subcontract 17 years ago. XCEL started working with the lab in 2003, and ITR has been a subcontractor for the past 14 years.

Each brings complementary skills to the partnership.

  • One of Cadre5’s key strengths is attracting and retaining the best software engineering, data architects, and design talent personnel as a result of the company’s reputation as a premier provider of IT support as well as its ability to recruit and retain outstanding personnel. Another key capability cited is Cadre5’s customized, high quality, advanced systems approach to problems.
  • XCEL brings a history of providing general technical support, IT support, engineering support and design, project management, and administrative support services to numerous ORNL directorates.
  • As its name implies, ITR’s expertise is in information technology staffing services. Backed by more than 23 years of experience in specialized IT staffing and staff augmentation, ITR, connects the best related talent by providing a full spectrum of staffing services to organizations that require on-demand technical expertise.  These include database architecture / development / administration, application and web development, network engineering, systems, or tech support.

Hicks explained that “contingent workers will be limited to a total of an 18-month window of time with a six-month mandatory break before they are eligible to serve ORNL again in a contingent worker capacity, regardless of the subcontracting company they work for.” That limit will ensure long-term staff needs are met with full-time employees who receive pay and benefits consistent with their role.

Regular readers of may recall this June 2019 article on Cadre5 where Hicks described two significant projects his company was undertaking for Department of Energy operations in Oak Ridge. One, named RESolution, is a research lifecycle support system to improve scientific productivity that was commissioned by ORNL. The other, named G2, is a tool needed by the National Nuclear Security Administration to integrate headquarters and national laboratory scope, schedule, budget, and metric information, creating a single repository of program data.

The IT Lab Partners Team also includes Pro2Serve, GEM Technology, MForce, Oxford Global Services, and Acato Information Management LLC. All are well-known subcontractors in the federal sector, and Acato was part of the team that worked on the G2 project.

The BOA requires support in all aspects and phases of information technology services. They include: (1) computer systems application development and maintenance; (2) systems integration and interoperability; (3) operating systems maintenance and design; (4) computer systems programming and software support; (5) data management consultation; (6) IT training, education and consulting; (7) systems administration; (8) cybersecurity; (9) website development; and (10) mobile device app development and support.

Thus far, ITLP has placed approximately 50 people, but the partners expect that number to gradually increase as existing subcontracts expire and are replaced by the new BOA.

To meet the current and anticipated needs of ORNL, ITLP is actively recruiting talent, and all of it does not have to be local. “Ninety to 95 percent (of the placements) can be remote workers,” Zimmerman said.

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