As the federal government seeks to scale up the digital services it offers across its agencies in the coming years, downtown Baltimore software firm Fearless is poised to play an important role.
The digital services firm was recently awarded a contract from the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) that could be worth up to $120 million over the next five years. In the near term, it will mean “dozens” of new positions created at the company, which has grown in recent years through work on modernization with a variety of federal agencies, and now has 140 employees. It sees this as a “pillar” contract that will jumpstart further growth.
Fearless was one of four companies to be chosen following a procurement process by GSA’s Technology Transformation Services (TTS) for a specific type of contract, alongside fellow women and minority-owned firms SemanticBits, Bixal and Amivero. Known as a blanket purchase agreement, the agreement allows TTS to issue task orders for projects to the companies as they come up, rather than having to go through the formal bidding process for each new task.
“It makes it faster for them to adapt to what needs are coming their way,” Godbout said.
Fearless will help to offer shared services to agencies within GSA, as well as other departments of the federal government. In some cases, the company will be providing consultants on tech transformation in areas like engineering, DevOps, product and design thinking. In others, it will likely be working to scale the services that are used by government teams, like Login.gov. Overall, the focus will be in areas such as application development, data science, product, delivery and quality assurance.
It comes as the federal government’s adoption of modern software services is reaching growth phase. The GSA was typically known for overseeing government buildings, vehicles and making acquisitions. Now technology is becoming another key part of its offerings.
The development has been taking place over years. In 2013, Godbout was a cofounder of 18F, which set up a consulting agency within the federal government to bring the sort of user-focused tech tools that consumers are used to having into government. It effectively set up a “lean startup inside government,” as the agency’s own history put it. With its work and profile growing, the GSA created TTS in 2016.
This brought expanded capabilities to work with agencies and houses multiple programs like 18F, the Presidential Innovation Fellowship and the IT Modernization Centers of Excellence, which provide specific areas of expertise. These efforts helped to attract talent and introduce new ways of thinking, and they have continued growth through successive presidential administrations. Now the goal is to move this tech prowess out to all of government. Alumni of 18F are now overseeing bigger budgets and departments — even the top GSA job. Under the Biden administration, new investments, including a $10 billion plan for IT and cybersecurity announced in January, are signaling another leap forward.
Experiments and tests of modern development formed with a movement’s zeal inside the government. Now the services it produced are scaling, and going mainstream.
“The groups that were established that were small digital services labs are starting to spill out and run large organizations,” Godbout said.-30-