Executive Spotlight: Interview with Michael Niggel, CEO of ACT I

ExecutiveBiz talked with Michael Niggel, CEO of ACT I, about his company’s recent contract wins, strong growth over the past few years and current positioning in the technology acquisitions market.

Michael Niggel

“We expect to grow another 50-100% in 2018. Our national security, cyber and FMS markets are expanding because of the persistent and advanced global threats, and we recognize that the U.S. and our allies desperately need our total acquisition management, cyber and FMS services.”

 ExecutiveBiz: You founded ACT I twenty years ago. How has the company changed and repositioned itself in the federal acquisition marketplace during that time?

Michael Niggel: When Dr. Harold Rafuse and I started the company in 1998, we started with five technical and management staff who all came from SAIC, most of whom had worked closely together and for the same customer, Tank-Automotive Command (TACOM). Originally, we positioned the firm to perform acquisition management. Over the past 20 years, we have developed and expanded our technical expertise and services to cover total acquisition management, cyber security, health care, and foreign military sales for the U.S. government and our allies. This year our staff will grow to 300-400 technical and management experts based in both the U.S. and overseas.

Throughout our 20-year journey, we have always focused on our core value that “our employees are #1.”  Our slogan, “with you every step of the way,” applies to our employees as well as our customers. We have created a knowledge base, a support system, and a developmental center that encourages and allows our employees to succeed — because without great employees, ACT I could not find and keep great customers like the F-35 Joint Program Office, DHS Cyber Security and Communications Office, DHS Customs and Border Protection, and the Defense Health Agency.

ExecutiveBiz: Recently, you have made some key leadership appointments. Can you discuss the thought process determining the organizational structure and what the desired outcome is?

 Michael Niggel: We have organized and structured ACT I to scale from a mature small business into an efficient mid-tier business which will continue to execute as a prime contractor.  Neil Albert, our new President, has 30 years of experience in scaling his prior acquisition consulting firm from 200 people to 700 people; Claudio Monticelli, our COO, has operations expertise in a very large DoD acquisition services firm; and Mark Hughes, our new CFO, has been a CEO, COO and CFO in small, medium, and large IT and cloud firms, taking care of  financial services as well as both sides of M&A deals. In addition to building a high-quality management team, we have  upgraded all our processes and systems (ACT I will achieve CMMI Level 3 for Services certification this fall) so that we are pre-positioned and ready to scale up. We are in the market research phase of finding two or three firms over the next 12-18 months that fit well with ACT I’s culture and will accelerate our growth in the space, cyber, healthcare and IC domains.

ExecutiveBiz: ACT I was selected to the GSA’s OASIS Small Business Pool 1. What has ACT I’s role been in that program in 2018 to date?

 Michael Niggel: ACT I was selected as an OASIS Small Business Pool 1 awardee in 2014. Since then, we have been competing with about 40 of the best acquisition services firms in the country and winning our share of business across the DoD, DHS, DHA and service branches. We have won major contracts, ranging from $20 million to $60 million respectively, supporting DHS Cyber Security and Communications Office, and the Customs and Border Protection Enterprise Program Management Office. The OASIS small businesses in Pool 1, including ACT I, have demonstrated that excellent small businesses can manage and lead acquisition and program management  services on large, complex DoD ACAT I and DHS Level I programs. In addition, well-managed small businesses can accomplish U.S. customers’ requirements rapidly and affordably, and without the organizational conflicts of interest that many large businesses possess.

Also, the GSA recently announced ACT I as an OASIS Small Business Pool 2 selectee, with contracts to be announced and awarded shortly. OASIS Pool 2 primarily includes NAICS codes for financial management and financial audit capabilities, which are right in ACT I’s technical and management wheelhouse.

ExecutiveBiz: What new products and services are on the horizon for ACT I?

 Michael Niggel: We are working on tools and processes to help the international and security cooperation community with FMS case execution, as well as tackling growing security and cyber concerns for the U.S. and our allies. We are expanding service offerings across all our core markets, including the aerospace, homeland security, cyber and defense healthcare sectors. As these communities increase interagency integration and partnerships, ACT I is well-positioned to support their needs. Surveys conducted for high-end DoD ACAT I and DHS Level I programs show that ACT I scores very high against small- and medium-sized businesses in benchmarks reflecting “employee engagement with the customer.”  This is solely due to the fact that our people care deeply about our customers and the critical missions that we support every day.

ExecutiveBiz: ACT I has experienced significant growth in the past few years. What will the organization look like in the next 12-24 months?

Michael Niggel: We expect to grow another 50-100% in 2018. Our national security, cyber, and FMS markets are expanding because of persistent and advanced global threats, and we recognize that the U.S. and our allies desperately need our total acquisition management, cyber and FMS services. As a result, we will continue investing internal resources to hire and retain the best employees to ensure ACT I is one of the top places to work in our market area. We have the processes and systems in place to scale multiple times; but more importantly, we now have a long-term strategy and success-driven leadership in place. We celebrated our 20th anniversary this past January with all our employees and industry partners, because they are the ones enabling us to make a difference across the globe.

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Michael Niggel co-founded ACT I in 1998. From 1986 to 1998, Mr. Niggel led and managed SAIC’s National Security Group acquisition management divisions and operations. Mr. Niggel was formerly a Presidential Management Intern in the Reagan Administration from 1983 to 1986.


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