Climbing the Government Contract Ladder


ePATHUSA, an Iowa software consulting and staff augmentation firm, has achieved remarkable success as a federal contractor, securing the 2023 National Small Woman-Owned Business of the Year award from the National 8(a) Association and HUBZone Contractors National Council. They are now well positioned to pursue contracts with the Department of Defense.

Graduating from their first state contract in 2009, the transition to federal contracts has not been easy. ePATHUSA’s success resulted from experience, a focused vision for growth, and the support of the CIRAS APEX Accelerator program, which helps companies navigate the complex world of government contracting.

“We have worked for many years in state and local government and with commercial businesses and have built our capabilities to pursue bigger contracts with the federal government,” said Hari Nallure, who cofounded ePATHUSA with his wife, Anitha. “Our vision is to scale up from 400 to 500 employees. We need to secure federal business to meet our vision.”

“Providing government contracting assistance aligns with our mission to help businesses prosper and grow,” said Jodi Essex, CIRAS program director. “Adding the government as a customer helps diversify your customer base, which protects a business in case of unforeseen circumstances with an existing customer segment.”

ePATHUSA has worked with CIRAS since 2015, starting with their successful application for the Small Business Administration (SBA) 8(A) program, which is a 9-year business development program to help small, disadvantaged businesses advance in federal contracting.

Anitha Timri G, ePATHUSA President and CEO; Hari Nallure, ePATHUSA Vice President and Cofounder
Anitha Timri G, ePATHUSA President and CEO; Hari Nallure, ePATHUSA Vice President and Cofounder

ePATHUSA’s first contract was with the Iowa Department of Revenue. The company used the CIRAS bid match service to find other opportunities and was awarded projects with the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission and several other state governments, including Minnesota, Colorado, and Nevada.

Frequently, Iowa businesses approach CIRAS without a clear understanding of what specific agencies would be a fit with their products or services. With access to key databases and daily notifications of bid requests, CIRAS government contracting specialists provide clients with timely information about relevant contract opportunities; market research reports on government spending, including contract awardees and pricing; and relevant agency contacts. They help companies stay compliant with ever-changing government regulations and achieve small business certifications that government agencies are seeking when conducting procurements.

“Small business owners wear many hats and often don’t have the bandwidth to decipher the government contracting process,” Essex said. “We provide clients with a roadmap and an action plan that may include anything from identifying the right agency to target, to obtaining certifications, to complying with various government regulations.”

“We always go to CIRAS when we need help with research on contract opportunities,” said Nallure. “We have learned a lot of things and we are now fully equipped with accounting and payroll systems to have larger contracts and be compliant with federal requirements.”

“ePATHUSA exemplifies the roadmap many companies take: establish a business, pursue certifications, gain experience at the state and local government level, and build up to federal contracts,” explains Essex.

ePATHUSA now has an SBA Mentor-Protégé agreement in place, which provides another layer of expertise for companies pursuing government contracts.

CIRAS is actively collaborating with ePATHUSA to develop a Department of Defense (DoD) Mentor-Protégé agreement and pinpoint potential areas where they could benefit from mentorship. These areas include acquiring security clearance and achieving cybersecurity compliance. This step holds significant importance since the DoD plays a pivotal role in federal contracts.

While receiving government contracts requires effort, it provides many benefits, Essex noted, especially since economic downturns often don’t deter government spending and “there’s almost nothing the government doesn’t buy. We might work with a restaurant that caters to a government entity or a company that makes bulletproof vests for the military or a tiny component of a military vehicle.”

For more information, contact Jodi Essex at or 515-509-0769.