Finding the Lost: Georgia Tech Assists Atlanta Firm with Landing Air Force Contract

Valdosta ManufacturerSmith & Carson, a national investigative services firm based in Atlanta, recently landed what its management says is one of the most rewarding projects in its 32-year history. The company, which specializes in litigation investigations, government investigations and pre-employment background screenings, was selected by the U.S. Air Force to locate family members of unaccounted-for service members.

This accomplishment was facilitated in part by the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC), a program that assists companies with all aspects of government procurement processes.

“We became a GTPAC client in October 2009, and were awarded the Air Force contract in six months time, an amazingly quick turnaround,” noted Mary Podgorny, vice president of government services for Smith & Carson. “They helped us step by step on how to register with the government and how to identify opportunities, and they assisted all the way through the contract award.”

Smith & Carson was founded by Larry Carson more than 30 years ago. Over the years, the company’s focus shifted to high-stakes litigation defense and corporate due diligence, and most recently expanded to include government services and pre-employment background screening. The company’s areas of expertise include comprehensive public record investigations, expert witness investigations and vetting, employee backgrounds, witness location and interviewing, jury profiling and genealogical research.

“Our business has evolved into more research just because of the capabilities of obtaining information electronically as opposed to having to go to a courthouse. It’s not a matter of finding information; it’s a matter of filtering out information,” Carson said. “We’ve taken the skills that we’ve learned throughout the years and applied them to the government sector.”

To prepare for bidding on a government contract, Podgorny attended GTPAC seminars on topics as varied as preparing successful bids and proposals, understanding the General Services Administration schedules process, using the computer to win government contracts and marketing to state and local governments. She also uses GTPAC’s electronic bid match program and credits it with approximately 50 opportunities daily. Tom Larkin, Joe Beaulieu and Chuck Schadl, all GTPAC procurement counselors, provided “responsive” and “proactive” assistance, she said.

In late April, Smith & Carson was awarded a five-year contract with the Air Force District of Washington, Acquisition Division, to locate living relatives of unaccounted-for Air Force service members from the Korean, Vietnam and Cold Wars. Under the terms of the agreement, the firm provides comprehensive investigative and genealogical services to the Air Force Mortuary Operations Center. This aids the Air Force in the remains identification and disposition process, and helps to ultimately provide closure to these service members’ families. Across all military branches, there are nearly 88,000 unaccounted-for service members.

“Because the population is getting older and there’s a huge volume of work that needs to get accomplished, time is of the essence. Once we became aware of the needs of the Air Force, we knew we could help. Uncovering information and locating people is our core competency; we are experts in this field, and have been able to provide them with a superior solution,” Podgorny said. “The guidance received from the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center was instrumental in helping us to enter the public sector, identify government needs and realize success in the federal marketplace in a relatively short amount of time.”

Carson also noted that Smith & Carson is especially privileged to assist the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Center.

“We are proud to add this scope of work as part of our company legacy,” he said. “As American citizens, veterans, children and grandchildren of veterans, we are honored to dedicate our company resources and expertise to assist with this important mission.”

GTPAC – part of the Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute – provides no-cost assistance with government procurement to any company licensed to do business in Georgia. Last year, GTPAC conducted seminars in Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Carrollton, Columbus, Gainesville, Rockmart, Savannah and Warner Robins. The center assists companies with all aspects of federal, state and local government procurement processes, including solicitation analysis, proposal preparation, pre- and post-award counseling, and quality and accounting systems. Procurement counselors also analyze whether companies have the potential for participating in the government procurement process.

Photo caption: Members of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command Honor Guard carry a transfer case of remains during a Repatriation Ceremony at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, on July 17. The ceremony honored U.S. service members lost during our nation’s past conflicts by recovery teams from JPAC. JPAC’s mission is to achieve the fullest possible accounting of all U.S. service members lost during our nation’s previous conflicts. (JPAC photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Chris A. Perkins)

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Writer: Nancy Fullbright