Annual Report 2019

Mission. Insight.

National Impact

A Health Care Giant

Atlas is known for health care transformation: from research and analysis to innovative operating models to implementation at scale. In June of 2019, Atlas became the new home for one the nation’s top experts in all three categories. Kenneth W. Kizer, MD, MPH, joined Atlas as Chief Healthcare Transformation Officer and Senior Executive Vice President and quickly galvanized the company’s work with the nation’s largest health care system, VHA.

Dr. Kizer was trained in emergency medicine, an experience that inspired him to make a parallel career in public health. He now holds the rare distinction of being an elected member of both the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Public Administration. His energy, vision, and commitment to innovation have made his influence international in scope. He has been named multiple times as one of the “100 Most Powerful People in Healthcare” by Modern Healthcare magazine and has published more than 500 original articles, reports, and book chapters about health care transformation, population health management, and the core issues of access, safety, and quality.

In 1994, Dr. Kizer was appointed Under Secretary for Health in the VA by President Bill Clinton. He designed and led the innovative transformation of VHA that was widely praised and emulated by other large health care organizations. Dr. Kizer is also a seasoned leader in medical crises management, having orchestrated California’s response to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic a decade earlier.

Since joining Atlas, Dr. Kizer has demonstrated a signature ability to inform, innovate, and lead on multiple fronts. Within his first weeks, he testified before Congress and moderated an expert panel on public/private partnerships at MIT while co-creating an operational model for innovation in health care that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine Catalyst. The model is described on page 26 in this Report.

Dr. Kizer was a key contributor to the proposal effort that led to the award of a 10-year, $1 billion VHA IHT contract to a joint venture between Atlas and its protégé company, PFS. Currently, as VHA and the nation confront and learn the lessons of the fight against COVID-19, his experience and perspective are in great demand across the world.

Above and Beyond

The ongoing transformation of VHA reaches deeply into P&LO, one of the largest purchase and supply organizations in the federal government. P&LO provides VHA medical sites with everything from office supplies to advanced pharmaceuticals and medical instruments.

In 2019, P&LO turned to Atlas to accelerate the progress of its integrated logistics business transformation (ILBT). Atlas, with PFS, helped bring P&LO the following:

  • ILBT management capabilities, such as modernizing its contracting processes
  • Improved capabilities for managing enterprise-level relationships, such as with DoD and VA
  • Improved capabilities for customer relationship management
  • Improved capabilities for developing, evaluating and fielding new information technology systems

The team drew on its past success in helping federal agencies with business transformation. In just weeks, P&LO received detailed operational plans for its ILBT initiatives.

The team also gave P&LO a highlevel plan for internal integration of its two largest teams: purchasing and supply/logistics teams. This roadmap is designed to strongly align with the ILBT initiatives, while improving P&LO’s ability to support VHA’s achievement of desired health outcomes for Veterans. P&LO embraced this recommendation, and requested continued support for its new “One P&LO” vision.

“Sometimes national leaders and field managers can share a passion for progress but not a vision for achieving it. Atlas combines hard data and human touch to align everyone on clear goals and measurable outcomes. We’re delighted to apply this expertise for Veterans.”

Keith Phillips
Atlas Research
Contracting staff within P&LOs
$15 billion
Annual expenditures by P&LO
VHA sites of care supported by P&LO
(Source: VHA P&LO)
Rapidly develop four strategic modernization initiatives for VHA’s Procurement and Logistics Office (P&LO)
P&LO could optimize these initiatives through enhanced integration of its core purchase and supply functions
A “One P&LO” strategic integration plan that cascades directly into results-based action plans for modernization initiatives

Atlas. Cybersecurity. Innovation

The need is clear. Cyber and infrastructure attacks on government, business, education, and health care increased—again—in 2019. In May alone, a ransomware attack on Baltimore cost the city $18.5 million, the hack of a health care company exposed 11.9 million patient records, and an agency of the federal government saw confidential data stolen from a subcontractor. Nearly 1,000 other cyberattacks hit the U.S. during the year.

The White House publicly acknowledged in its 2018 government reform plan that “the federal government struggles to recruit and retain cybersecurity professionals.” The reform plan emphasized the need for innovative approaches to hiring cybersecurity talent and to deploying them more nimbly against emerging threats. That’s because cyber warfare is highly fluid and unpredictable, and traditional government service hiring rules have not been flexible enough to enable and incentivize unique and in-demand skillsets.

In 2019, Atlas brought its expertise to the nation’s fight against cyber and infrastructure threats by winning a major contract to help DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) develop a critical workforce of cybersecurity talent.

Faced with a need to add hundreds of people to their workforce efficiently and creatively, CISA’s Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer (OCHCO) tasked Atlas to support the full range of human capital functions, including:

  • Policy, strategic planning, and workforce planning
  • Recruiting, hiring, and training
  • Human resources processing and data analytics
  • Business process improvement
  • Program management and administrative support

Atlas uses its extensive human capital expertise across the entire employment lifecycle, including the innovative use of data analytics to inform hiring strategies and practices and deep experience in improving organizational performance in the federal government. Atlas is currently executing on its full range of responsibilities with a blend of sophistication, speed, and sensitivity.

“It is so exciting and rewarding to be part of a team that is supporting CISA in executing its mission. Each of our team members bring a unique skillset needed to inform and advance the OCHCO’s human capital strategies. Together, we are making a difference.”

Stefanie Lehmann
Vice President
Atlas Research
Strengthen the nation’s cybersecurity capabilities by attracting top talent
Legacy civil service human resources practices can limit recruitment and retention of cyber talent
Helping transform and execute human capital strategies for an agency responsible for protecting and enhancing the resilience of our nation’s physical and cyber infrastructure

Bringing the Life Cycle to Life

VHA P&LO originally engaged Atlas in 2016 to spearhead a fundamental shift: integrating equipment purchases that had long been decentralized in VA medical centers (VAMCs). Atlas continues to support P&LO with this transformation by working with clinicians, logistics managers, and biomedical engineers to deploy key parts of the operational model.

In 2019, Atlas worked across the VHA system to deploy the operational model by engaging stakeholders from the field and breaking down barriers to change. The team developed tools to gauge clinicians’ equipment preferences and championed a clinically driven strategic sourcing initiative to place these items on contract. Atlas engaged VHA stakeholders to organize a pilot project in the field for speeding and simplifying acquisition of high-tech medical equipment. With that capability, P&LO will be able to refine its acquisition processes for almost any requirement.

“Equipment lifecycle management is a balance between optimizing costs and giving health care providers the tools they need to accomplish their mission. That’s why we’ve paid as much attention to the people who use the equipment as we have to the equipment itself. It’s the people who heal Veterans and save lives.”

Eric Hinkle
Senior Consultant
Atlas Research
Non-expendable medical equipment contracts awarded
$15 million
Total value of non-expendable medical equipment ordered off new contracts
$100 million
Potential three-year cost
efficiencies from the National Equipment Catalog (NEC)
(Source: P&LO, as of December 2019)
Support quality health care for Veterans by having the right medical equipment in the right place, at the right time, acquired and maintained at the right cost
A successful equipment lifecycle management program requires changing minds as well as changing processes and technology
A fully fledged equipment lifecycle management program with a strong foundation, broad buy-in, and positive impacts in all lifecycle phases

Market Forces for Medicare

Beginning January 1, 2021, the U.S. will take a historic step toward ending health care industry practices that hide prices from patients. A powerful price transparency rule will go into full effect that requires hospitals to post the standard charges for its items, services, and procedures on the internet in a machine-readable format. Making hospital charges transparent and available to the public aims to bring market forces into play—increasing competition and reducing prices.

Well before this new era arrives, the Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC), operated by the MITRE Corporation in support of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), began helping the federal government and industry stakeholders prepare for it. As part of the MITRE FFRDC team supporting this effort, Atlas experts researched a range of policy and practical issues ahead of the policy development, contributing to detailed environmental scan reports that summarized price transparency literature and described the features of third-party, web-based tools and resources already available to consumers. Atlas personnel also structured and coordinated pivotal conversations with stakeholders, including patient advocates, electronic health record companies, and application developers.

To support CMS as they prepare for rule implementation, Atlas supported qualitative and quantitative research to assess hospitals’ readiness, understand the current price transparency environment, and help consumers understand how to use the new information to effectively compare prices. Atlas will continue to support the development of implementation guidance to ensure compliance.

“Atlas was initially focused on increasing price transparency for Medicare Fee-for-Service beneficiaries, but now we are enabling all Americans to compare health care prices and thereby make more informed health care decisions. Health care reform is a top priority for our nation that will likely demand more attention and urgency after the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Reva Stidd
Senior Manager
Atlas Research
Empower consumers to make more informed health care decisions by making health care price information more available, understandable, and actionable
If hospitals publicly post their standard charges, third-party tool/application developers will be able to aggregate and display price information in a more meaningful and consumer-friendly way
Hospitals in the United States will be required to post their standard charges for items, services, and procedures online, and will be subject to a fair and robust compliance monitoring process


Multiply by Millions

Board certification is the gold standard of medical practice. While medical licenses set a minimum level of general competence, board certification demonstrates exceptional expertise in a specific field. That’s why patients and other health care providers look for a board-certified physician when they want assurance of excellence in a given specialty.

FDA increasingly relies on an emerging specialty known as clinical informatics, which applies information technology to health care data to improve patient outcomes—ideally at lower cost. Individual physicians use clinical informatics to assess patients, prescribe treatments, and monitor results. FDA multiplies those benefits by millions of patients, because the agency is applying clinical informatics to evaluate treatments and devices used by physicians across the health care spectrum.

In 2019, Atlas sped into action to put FDA physicians and supporting staff on a fast path to board certification in clinical informatics. Atlas instructional designers rapidly performed a gap analysis to identify the skills and knowledge FDA personnel needed to pass a demanding examination. Next, Atlas experts created a customized, high-intensity training course to help students absorb new knowledge quickly and sustainably. Then, when COVID-19 emerged, they pivoted quickly from live classes to video training to accommodate social distancing.

“People at FDA have a challenging mission and must constantly advance their capabilities. We met that need with a customized clinical informatics course that combined depth with speed. It’s not every day you can say that people got really excited about training.”

Claire Barnett
Senior Instructional Designer
Atlas Research
U.S. physicians board certified
in clinical informatics
(as of November 2019)
FDA physicians and staff training for board certification in 2020
(Sources: American Medical Informatics Association; FDA)
Prepare FDA physicians and support staff for the board certification examination in clinical informatics
FDA personnel need training for the large component of the exam that concerns clinical settings
A tightly customized, expert exam preparation course designed and launched within four months

In Rail We Trust

The U.S. freight railroad system moves more freight than any other in the world, with well over one million carloads in an average month. The FRA, within the Department of Transportation, is responsible primarily for keeping the railroad network safe for both goods and people—a mission that increasingly requires more advanced technology, tighter cross-functional collaboration, and systematic mitigation of retirement risk.

That’s why FRA selected Atlas to create a new five-year Strategic Human Capital Plan in 2019: Atlas experts bring deep human capital experience, technological sophistication, and proven ability to positively engage all types of employees in workforce planning. The Atlas team quickly dove into FRA’s workforce trends and challenges, conducting 33 in-depth focus groups with 15 percent of the organization’s employees from every level and geographic region.

Among the key findings: workers are hungry for tech training; past advances in recruiting and onboarding still need refinement; and with an aging workforce, FRA must improve succession planning and retain institutional knowledge. In the Strategic Human Capital Plan for 2020–2024, Atlas detailed employee perceptions regarding 11 high-priority issues and provided FRA with practical solutions for all of them. The entire project was completed in just six months.

“Involving workers in the future of their organization is as much art as science. FRA employees really care about their mission, and we were able to focus that passion into actionable intelligence that will benefit not just FRA but the whole country—because we all depend on the rail system.”

Jeff Standley
Technical Advisor
Atlas Research
13 million
U.S. rail freight carloads in 2019
Rail miles in the U.S.
freight rail network
Safety engineers, specialists, and
staff in eight regional field offices
(Sources: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, FRA)
Position the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to proactively address critical workforce trends
FRA has a highly distributed and diverse workforce, making extensive live interviews essential despite a tight timeline
A practical plan for achieving FRA’s high-priority workforce goals, built with a process that engaged FRA’s workers in the outcome

Ready Means Healthy

Among active duty Service Members in the U.S. armed forces, approximately 14 percent receive diagnoses of psychological and behavioral health conditions, but a large proportion who have symptoms don’t seek care, get a diagnosis, or take advantage of the resources available to them. This limits overall mission readiness for military services.

Atlas began working with the DoD Psychological Health Center of Excellence in 2017 to simultaneously decrease the stigma associated with mental and behavioral health conditions while increasing the utilization of programs available to address them. Atlas experts helped plan and implement numerous changes, including:

  • Systematically revising active duty Service Member communications that used language that stigmatizes mental or behavioral health conditions
  • Identifying reasons why Service Members were not accessing mental health care
  • Improving outreach and effectiveness of programs targeted to combat and operational stress control (COSC) in the military services

By 2019, Atlas conducted expert analysis of more than 200 mental health policies across the Services, helping to address and destigmatize psychological health care at the headquarters level. In addition to policy review, Atlas supports COSC programs through the standardization of data collection, program monitoring and evaluation, and recommendations for program improvement and sustainability.

“Atlas uses data-driven public health expertise to confront outdated cultural norms that contribute to the underutilization of psychological health services by active duty Service Members. Our goal is more than modernizing policy and programming; we want to see happier, healthier Service Members.”

Sarah Wonders
Atlas Research
1.35 million
Active duty Service Members
Active duty Service Members
receiving outpatient care for a
mental health diagnosis
(Sources: DMDC and PHCoE websites, data for 2017)
Improve the lives of Service Members, Veterans, and their families by advancing excellence in psychological health care, readiness, and prevention of disorders
40-60 percent of active military personnel who experience mental health symptoms do not utilize the health care resources available
Modernized, standardized policies that increase access, reduce barriers, and encourage optimal use of psychological health resources for the active military

The Power of Mission

After Congress passed the Appeals Modernization Act of 2017, the Board engaged Atlas to develop and deliver change management strategies to ensure timely implementation of the law. Less than a year later, the Office of Personnel Management identified the Board as a bottom performer in employee engagement and issued a memo requiring the Board to improve its employee engagement index (EEI) by 20 percent by June 2020. With just 18 months to achieve this goal, the Board again partnered with Atlas—this time to develop a strategic plan to dramatically improve its employee engagement scores.

After conducting a rigorous assessment, Atlas developed an approach that the National Center for Organizational Development praised as a shining example for the rest of VA. The strategy leveraged best practices and insights from Atlas’ previous work with the Board to develop a customized framework focused on improving trust in leadership, growth opportunities, proactive management, competence and training, work environment, and connection to the Board’s mission.

Atlas diffused employee engagement strategies, programs, and values across the Board, focusing on energizing employees’ collective commitment to serving Veterans. In June 2019, the Board achieved the highest increase in EEI among all Veterans Affairs Central Office (VACO) organizations— increasing its EEI by 23 points.

“The success of this project was rooted in mutual trust and respect. The clients trusted that we could help them and that we would be honest with them at every step. Our team understood their culture, and we believed in them. Those shared values nurtured a thrilling transformation.”

Rebecca Hart
Senior Manager
Atlas Research
Ranking for improvement in EEI among VACO organizations
(Source: Board of Veterans’ Appeals, VA, Fiscal Year 2019)
Improve the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board) employee engagement scores by 20 percent
Employees who take ownership of their culture and commitment to serve others feel more pride in their work
Double-digit increase in Board employee engagement scores


Fast Path to Data Harmony

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is the nation’s leading federal agency charged with improving health care safety and quality. It funds research, creates education and training materials, and generates metrics and data that guide the nation in changing how health care is provided and how it is funded.

Over the past decades, AHRQ has developed rich repositories of data on patients, providers, expenditures, and more. Yet almost all of these data tools were built independently from each other, usually with customized software, resulting in a lack of a consistent user interface that brands them as all being from AHRQ. In addition, many of these data tools are tethered to outside vendors that maintain them.

In the short span of the contract, Atlas showed AHRQ how it could harmonize access to its various data tools by using a single portal, and also present the data visually to make each tool easier to understand. Once created, the working prototype Atlas proposed will demonstrate how AHRQ can remove control of its data tools from the various IT interfaces, making them less costly to expand and maintain, and more easily transferred between vendors.

“AHRQ collects an amazing amount of valuable data for improving health care quality and safety. Presentation of the data needs to be just as amazing. We were excited to help the agency leap ahead technologically in ways that benefit everyone who uses the data to make a difference.”

Dennis Legislador
Atlas Research
Reduction in post-hospitalization MRSA
infections (2011-2014) following AHRQ
research into causes and effects
$7.7 billion
Costs avoided through reduction of
hospital-acquired medical conditions
(Source: AHRQ releases)
Make essential national health data more accessible and easier to analyze
Human-centered design can make working with data more fluid and natural
A working prototype that empowers users to understand data visually

Designed for Veteran Satisfaction

On May 20, 2019, VA officially made the customer experience of U.S. Veterans a core principle that defines the department itself. This watershed moment highlighted the remarkable success of the Veteran’s Experience Office (VEO), which Atlas has served with distinction since 2016.

VA created VEO to address Veteran concerns. It was funded like a small start-up but given a huge mission: lead a major improvement in customer satisfaction across all administrations within VA. When VEO engaged Atlas for help with this massive task, Atlas experts responded with a mission-sized solution: using human-centered design to modernize VA’s legacy infrastructures and processes.

This strategy put the Veteran at the center of every VA function and communication. Atlas teams quickly demonstrated success in multiple projects, such as standardizing processes across VA’s 200 contact centers around the country and managing development of a VA-wide digital identity record for every Veteran. Atlas was also instrumental in creating Veteran Journey Maps and the VA Welcome Kit, which depicts the VA services applicable to each stage in the Veteran journey and provides information on accessing those services. The small start-up is now a big player, as Lead Agency Partner for the President’s Management Agenda (PMA) Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Customer Experience (CX) Goal.

“Substantially improving customer service in a department as large and complex as VA demands a truly transformative strategy, and that’s why we focused on human-centered design. Nothing is as powerful as engaging customers directly and making them the basis of everything you do.”

Susanne Larkins
Atlas Research
20 million
Veteran population in 2019
Overall trust in VA among Veterans
Overall trust in federal
government among U.S. citizens
(Sources: VA; Pew Research Center)
Enable VA to be the leading customer service organization in government
Human-centered design transforms legacy customer service systems and processes
A near-doubling of reported Veteran satisfaction from 2015 to 2019

Innovation Gets Smarter

VHA is developing a living, thriving Innovation Ecosystem that can continually improve the lives of Veterans in measurable ways. Major milestones include:

  • The Diffusion of Excellence program for replicating and scaling innovations systemwide
  • The Innovators Network, which creates capacity for innovation through dedicated specialists at VHA sites across the country
  • The Innovation Experience, which is an annual public event that brings hundreds of frontline employees together with VHA leaders, media, and academics to explore and celebrate new ideas at every stage of development

In 2019, surging participation in the VHA Innovation Ecosystem presented VHA with a welcome challenge: how to harness it. Atlas helped VHA develop a stable, repeatable, transparent structure for taking an innovation from concept to fruition. Atlas experts then developed an operational model that is simple yet powerful. It defines measurable target outcomes for innovations and provides guiding questions at every stage to help determine if an idea should continue to advance. New innovations are as welcome as ever; now they have a clearer path forward toward making a difference.

“It takes deep knowledge and great care to systematize activities that an organization is already succeeding with at some level. But VHA wants to scale that success dramatically, so we developed an operational model with the best of both worlds: a wide funnel and a smarter pipeline.”

Blaire Morrison
Atlas Research

“VA medical centers across the country have been doing fantastic work long before we came along. What was lacking was a coordinated network that brought these sites together with a framework to guide innovation activities.”

Dr. Ryan Vega
Executive Director
Vha Innovation Ecosystem
Employees involved in innovation competency trainings and implementations
Veterans affected by VHA innovations
$40 million
Costs avoided since 2015 through VHA innovations
(Source: VHA Innovation Ecosystem)
Create a repeatable, scalable process for identifying and spreading innovation at VHA
Advancing new ideas in a large, complex organization requires blending structure and objectivity with grassroots enthusiasm
A human-centered operational model for discovering, testing, replicating, and scaling health care innovations of any kind

Set Up for Success

The world’s best-run organizations are exposed to the same set of risks as everyone else, but they establish internal control environments that proactively prevent surprises. This sets up their sustainable success: they can focus their attention on their missions rather than on recovering from missteps or oversights.

In 2019, Atlas performed several multi-year contracts with federal agencies seeking stronger, more effective internal control environments, including the National Science Foundation and VHA. Atlas experts draw on best practices, such as the “three lines of defense” model, to craft tailored solutions in the areas of internal controls governance; risk assessment; independent assurance; management oversight; internal controls policy and procedures establishment; and staff training.

A highlight during the year was completion of a contract with VHA’s Office of Community Care (OCC). The mission of OCC is to manage a popular option among Veterans: using their VHA-funded health care benefit with providers outside the VHA network. To minimize the inherent risk in paying for private care with public funds, Atlas designed and helped OCC implement a program for handling community care claims and disbursements consistently and transparently.

“A healthy internal control environment is like a healthy immune system in a person: it enables everything else to function properly. Atlas has the ability to improve internal controls for any organization, so it can pursue its mission more robustly and successfully.”

Michael Austin
Atlas Research
Reduce risks and costs associated with Veterans receiving private-sector, community-based health care paid for by VAMCs
The level of disbursements to community care providers varied significantly among VAMCs, according to their complexity
A medical cost management program that identifies and reduces risks of overspending on community care across all VAMCs


Care for Women Warriors

Since 2016, Atlas has been helping VA catch up to a demographic wave: the number of women Veterans is climbing even as the total Veteran population declines. This sparked recognition that one of VA’s most vital benefits is not gender-neutral. Women Veterans need and deserve health care aligned with their biology.

Atlas originally provided VHA with a detailed understanding of how VAMCs nationwide performed in providing health care to women. Atlas experts then developed a detailed methodology for achieving evidence-based quality improvement (EBQI) at sites with the greatest need and worked onsite with 21 of them to deliver measurable improvements. Examples include procurement and standardization of gender-specific medical supplies in exam rooms, access to designated providers with proficiency in women’s health, and more timely scheduling and follow up for preventive health screenings.

The model succeeded so well that other VAMCs are now requesting it. In partnership with PFS, Atlas experts are applying the road-tested EBQI methodology with a rapid process improvement approach. They first guide VAMC leaders, providers, and frontline employees to collaborate in identifying and prioritizing practical goals. Then, Atlas backs them up with implementation processes, technical assistance, and expertise in culture change, policy compliance, and data management. There’s still a long road ahead, but now it’s surely paved with progress.

“Sometimes national leaders and field managers can share a passion for progress but not a vision for achieving it. Atlas combines hard data and human touch to align everyone on clear goals and measurable outcomes. We’re delighted to apply this expertise for women Veterans.”

Jessica Danaux
Senior Consultant
Atlas Research
1.9 million
Women Veterans in 2019
Proportion of all Veterans
Projected proportion of women Veterans in 2035
(Source: National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics)
End decades of legacy attitudes and practices that held back health care for women Veterans
Every VAMC is unique; culture change must take root onsite
A robust, road-tested methodology for improving women’s health care that successfully adapts to any site

Launching the Next Generation

In 2019, Atlas continued a five-year project that has convincingly demonstrated the effectiveness of the Youth Health Equity Model of Practice (YHEMOP)—expanding the pipeline of health professionals with the cultural, linguistic, and health equity competencies required for an increasingly diverse population. A shortage of such professionals led the Office of Minority Health (OMH) within HHS to launch the project in 2014.

The central strategy was to pair undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students with health care and public health organizations, where they could engage in real-world health equity work. From inception, Atlas experts provided program management, recruiting, education, and research and evaluation support for YHEMOP while also documenting best practices and framing policy recommendations for OMH.

The five cohorts of Health Equity Fellows—as the participating students are known—performed their YHEMOP work in academic institutions, federal government offices, Regional Health Equity Councils, and professional associations around the country. During and after their tenures, Atlas connected them with mentors and other Fellows to help them build professional networks. Year after year, Fellows who came into YHEMOP with uncertainty about a health-related career gained the clarity and confidence to join the next generation of health professionals that our nation so urgently needs.

“Addressing the serious shortage of diverse public health professionals is essential to improving health for the nation overall, especially in light of the health equity issues the COVID-19 pandemic raises. Atlas has been deeply involved in this effort with OMH for five years of innovation, inspiration, and progress. It’s a great example of our values in action.”

Nikita Malcolm
Atlas Research
Health Equity Fellows participating in YHEMOP (2015-2019)
Applications to YHEMOP (2015-2019)
2019 Fellows reporting likelihood of pursuing a career in health equity after YHEMOP
(Source: OMH)
Expand the next generation of public health professionals capable of serving the changing needs of the nation
“They have to see it to be it.” Students are most likely to embrace a public health career if they have hands-on experience working in the field
More than 100 young people with mentors, professional networks, and successful public health projects under their belts

Aligned for Emergency Care

Atlas continues to help the nation take better care of young people. Since 2016, Atlas has been working with Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC), the only federal grant program focused specifically on improving emergency care for the nation’s 73.4 million people under 18. Atlas experts have contributed to EMSC’s national strategy, development of its current five-year roadmap, completion of milestone projects, and more.

EMSC, a program of the Maternal and Child Health Bureau within the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), works with an impressive set of stakeholders. They include state EMS agencies; professional associations for doctors, nurses, and emergency medical service providers; a Family Advisory Network (FAN) that partners with state EMSC projects; quality improvement and data analysis resource centers; and federal agencies, including “HHS—home to HRSA—and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In 2019, Atlas leveraged its expertise in both health care and stakeholder engagement to help EMSC advance on three fronts simultaneously. The new Critical Crossroads toolkit helps emergency departments create a care pathway for pediatric patients who present with mental health crises. Atlas also launched a series of FAN webinar workshops and helped support the launch of a vital push toward greater pediatric readiness among prehospital EMS providers.

“There are so many powerful stakeholders in emergency medical services for children and amazing expertise among health care providers. The key is getting everyone aligned on strategies and actions that permanently raise the country’s capability to provide emergency care for kids.”

Sarah Lifsey
Senior Manager
Atlas Research
139 million
Patient visits to U.S.
emergency departments
Emergency patients under 18
(Sources: U.S. Census; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics)
Improve emergency medical care for children and adolescents
Small agencies can have a big impact if they successfully align powerful stakeholders
Greater pediatric readiness among hospital and prehospital emergency medical services (EMS) providers, including new tools for mental health crisis care

Facilities Activation in High Gear

In less than five years, Atlas has built an industry-leading facilities activation practice that is helping VHA open new medical clinics, add mental health capacity, and step up services for its growing population of female Veterans. The Atlas team first proved itself with rapid-fire activations of large, high-visibility VAMCs in Denver and New Orleans. In 2019, Atlas has worked as a subcontractor to Strategic Medical Equipment Solutions, LLC (SMEs) on Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business contracts, such as multiple VHA facility activations in Arizona, Florida, Indiana, and Nebraska.

Activating a medical facility means turning a bare-bones building into a buzzing hive of modern medicine and human caregiving that’s furnished from wall to wall, served by high-tech infrastructure, and run with hundreds of precision operating policies. It’s like a race that a dozen teams all have to win—at exactly the same time.

The team brought to bear a combined 100 years of experience from helping guide activations at more than 30 health care facilities. Each member brings complementary domain expertise and a passion for overcoming challenges. The team collaborates internally and with clients at an extraordinarily high level in part because of its own specialized technology: the Atlas Facility Activation System (AFACTS™). AFACTS™ is an information management system so valuable that VA has vetted and now hosts it on its own web domain for managing activations.

VHA Facilities Activation Projects

  • Omaha, Nebraska: Public/nonprofit partnership, Ambulatory Care Center addition to existing VAMC; includes dedicated women’s clinic
  • Phoenix, Arizona: Four clinics become one super-clinic offering telehealth services, expanded specialty clinics, and mental health services
  • Gainesville and Ocala, Florida: Two medical clinics and a mental health facility
  • Terre Haute and West Indianapolis, Indiana: Outpatient and mental health clinics in two cities

“We’re like a submarine crew. The team is purpose-built to ensure we have exactly the expertise we need at any given time, in any given location. We also keep advancing our own skillsets so we’re ready for emerging challenges before they arise.”

Angela King
Technical Director
Atlas Research
Plan and execute the activation of new medical facilities for the nation’s largest integrated health care system
A small, purpose-built team can outperform a large one if it has the right mix of skills and experience
Successful activations of new VHA facilities in Colorado and Louisiana, with multiple activations in four states to follow

Atlas Leadership

Executive Team

Ryung Suh, MD, MPP, MBA, MPH

Chief Executive Officer

Mark H. Chichester, JD


Jeffrey A. Baetz, PMP, LSSGB

Vice President

Young Bang

Chief Growth Officer

Christopher P. Cronin

Vice President

Catherine Foy

Vice President

Paul Gorrell, PhD

Vice President

Scott Goss, MS, CPA

Chief Financial Officer

Jamie Hart, PhD, MPH

Executive Vice President

Stefanie Lehmann, MPA, PMP

Vice President

Kenneth W. Kizer, MD, MPH

Chief Healthcare
Transformation Officer and
Senior Executive Vice President

Elizabeth (Beth) Mahan, MHA, PMP

Executive Vice President

Kevin Ripp, MBA, PMP

Vice President

Marie Minier, MPS, MBA

Senior Vice President

Theolinda (Teddi) Mikula, MA, MBA, PMP

Senior Vice President

David Seelke, MHA, PMP

Senior Vice President

Nadia Smith, MBA, PMP, CSM

Vice President

Senior Leaders

Michael Austin, MBA, PMP, CGMS, LSSGB

Senior Principal

Nels Randolph Benson, ITIL


Chris Brown, ITIL, ICAgile

Senior Principal

James J. Chung

Senior Principal

Dana Cogar

Senior Principal

Vanessa Downes, MBA

Senior Director

Rae Anne Fischer


Walker Grossell, CPA


John Jacocks, MD, MTM&H,


Meg Kabat, LCSW-C, CCM

Senior Director

Kristin Kano, PhD


Susanne Larkins, MHA, PMP


Renée J. O’Brien, JD/MSFS, MS, LSSGB


Keith Phillips, MS


Mark Probus, MHA


Zahra Rehman


Kamran Sartaj


John U. Sepulveda, MA, MPHIL


Benjamin Taub

Senior Director

Tim Tinker, DRPH, MPH

Senior Director

Justine Wagner


Meredith Williams, MPH

Senior Principal

Board Members

Anne K. Altman

Co-Founder, Everyone Matters, Ventures; Retired General Manager, IBM U.S. Federal and Government Industries

Robert W. Carr, MD, MPH, FACPM

Retired Corporate Medical Director and Senior Vice President, GlaxoSmithKline; Chief Medical Officer, Kumanu

Nicholas Donofrio, MS

Fellow Emeritus and Retired Executive Vice President, Innovation and Technology, IBM

Robin L. Portman, MS

Former President and Chief Executive Officer, Atlas Research

Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, JD, MPA

President Emeritus, The George Washington University

John F. “Skip” Williams, MD, Ed.D., M.Sc., MPH

President Emeritus, State University New York Downstate Health Sciences Center

Atlas Research Services


Digital and Technology

We offer a suite of digital services and technology solutions designed to enable continuous innovation and information technology modernization. From defining strategy to implementation, Atlas can help chart digital transformation journeys that enhance customer experiences and accelerate the adoption of software, data, and cloud solutions in the rapidly evolving digital landscape.

Digital Strategy and Transformation; human centered Design; Data Analytics and Artificial intelligence; Modern Software Development; and Cloud Solutions

Facility Activation and Advisory Solutions

We have a successful history of working collaboratively with clients to activate medical facilities on time, on scope, and on budget. We use proven methods and tools, including our proprietary AFACTS™, to execute and track the requirements, specification documents, roadmaps, and prototypes needed for a smooth transition of medical services and operations.

Initial Outfitting and Transition; Activation Project Management; and Facility Advisory Solutions

Human Capital Solutions

We offer clients expert human capital solutions in human resources policy and strategy, workforce planning and management, employee engagement, and business process improvement and innovation. We maximize learning and performance solutions to assist clients in developing the organizational capabilities and capacity needed to address the evolving competencies and mission requirements of the federal workforce.

Human Capital Strategy; Learning and Performance

Innovation and Modernization

We apply creativity, design thinking, and analytical capabilities to develop scalable solutions and tailored approaches that allow our clients to adapt to meet current and future business targets and unforeseen challenges. Our approach encompasses the innovation lifecycle—from strategy through implementation, sustainment, and evolution.

Vision and Mission Strategic Planning; Innovation – Advisory and Implementation; Modernization Strategy and Roadmap; Organizational Design and Workforce Transformation; Change Analytics, Strategy, Execution, and Sustainment; and Stakeholder Analysis and Targeted Adoption

Organizational Excellence and Transformation

We use Lean Six Sigma and Continuous Process Improvement principles to help clients evaluate performance, develop solutions, and accomplish organizational transformation. We develop strategies for excellence and provide training and technical assistance to support full implementation and adoption. Our capabilities include all aspects of organizational change used to achieve innovative, enterprise-wide outcomes in an agile, accelerated fashion.

Transformation Strategy; Change Leadership; Organization Design; Operations Improvement; and Program Management Support

Research and Evaluation

We have unparalleled expertise in public health and health care research and evaluation across multiple federal agencies. We identify, evaluate, and implement evidence-based solutions to help our clients support underserved and hard-to-reach populations.

Qualitative Research; Quantitative Research; Mixed-Methods; Systematic Reviews and Environmental Scans; Measurement Studies; and Knowledge Translation and Implementation Science

Strategic Communications

We create data-driven strategic communications that energize our clients’ vision, strategy, growth, and influence. We are trusted advisors—helping our clients strengthen key relationships and mobilize support to achieve results. We drive action, move opinion, lead change, accomplish objectives, and anticipate and respond to significant challenges and opportunities. We are communications designers, innovators and problem-solvers.

Communications Strategy and Planning; Innovation and Design Thinking; MultiMedia Outreach and Marketing; Digital Communications; Branding; Creative Services; Evidence Based Research and Behavior Change Communications; and Communications Performance Management and Measurement

2019 Awards Spotlight

Atlas Research

Inc. 5000 Fastest-Growing Private Companies, #2,413 (2019)

Atlas is among the nation’s fastest-growing privately held businesses, according to Inc. magazine’s 2019 Inc. 5000 list.

Dr. Ryung Suh

Washington Business Journal 2019 Veterans in Business Award

The award honors Greater Washington military Veterans and Veteran-owned companies for their work in helping Veterans in the workplace and beyond.

Robin Portman (Former President and Chief Executive Officer of Atlas Research)

2019 GovCon Executive of the Year (Up to $75 Million Category) Award

Sponsored by the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce and the Professional Services Council, the GovCon Awards recognize best-in-class leaders and businesses in the region’s government contracting sector.

Dr. Kenneth W. Kizer

David E. Rogers Award

The Association of American Medical Colleges award, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, recognizes a medical school faculty member who has made major contributions to improving the health and health care of the American people.

Young Bang

FedHealthIT100 Award

The FedHealthIT award recognizes 100 individuals driving change and advancement in the federal health information technology and consulting market.

Contract Vehicles

Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) Contracts and Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs)


GSA - Human Capital and Training Solutions Small Business (HCaTS SB) Pools 1 and 2

GSA - Human Capital and Training Solutions Unrestricted (HCaTS-U) Pools 1 and 2

GSA – IT-70 Schedule, Health IT and IT Professional Services (SINS 54151S, 54151HEAL, and OLM)

GSA – Professional Services Schedule (GSA PSS) (SINS 541430, 541611, 541613, 541820, 541910, 611430, 611512, and OLM)

Department of Veterans Affairs

BPA under GSA PSS: VA National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Education Products

BPA under GSA PSS: VA Program Management Lean Six Sigma (PMLSS) Subject Matter Experts

BPA under GSA PSS: Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Product Effectiveness Functional Review

VHA Integrated Healthcare Transformation

Department of Health and Human Services

Food and Drug Administration Integration Services BPA

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Evaluation Studies

Program Support Center (PSC)

Services Abuse and Mental Health Services (Domain 5S)

Client Portfolio


National Science Foundation

U.S. Department of Defense

  • Air Force Medical Service
  • Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (formerly Defense Security Service)
  • Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense
  • Military Health System
    • Defense Health Agency
  • Program Executive Office, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternative’s Occupational Health Program
  • U.S. Army, Program Executive Office

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

  • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    • Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention
  • Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    • Center for Clinical Standards and Quality
    • Center for Consumer Information and Oversight
    • Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation
  • Food and Drug Administration
  • Health Resources and Services Administration
    • Federal Office of Rural Health Policy
    • Maternal and Child Health Bureau
    • Office of Special Health Affairs
  • National Institutes of Health
    • National Heart Lung and Blood Institute
  • Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health
    • Office of Adolescent Health
    • Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy
    • Office of Minority Health
    • Office of Population Affairs Contract
  • Program Support Center
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
    • Center for Substance Abuse Treatment

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

  • Customs and Border Protection
  • Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency

U.S. Department of Labor

  • Veterans’ Employment and Training Service
  • Women’s Bureau

U.S. Department of Transportation

  • Federal Railroad Administration

U.S. Department of Treasury

  • Community Development Financial Institutions Fund

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

  • MyVA Program Support Office
  • National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans
  • Office of Acquisitions, Logistics, and Construction
    • Strategic Acquisitions Center
  • Office of Enterprise Integration
    • Center for Innovation
  • Office of Human Resources and Administration
    • Office of Human Resources Management
    • VA Learning University
  • Office of Information and Technology
    • Enterprise Program Management Office
  • Office of Operations, Security, and Preparedness
  • Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs
  • Office of the Deputy Under Secretary for Organizational Excellence
  • Office of the Secretary
  • Veterans Experience Office
  • Veterans Health Administration
    • Eastern Colorado Health Care System
    • National Workers Compensation Program
    • Office of Administrative Operations
      • Healthcare Technology Management
      • Procurement and Logistics Office
    • Office of Clinical Operations
      • Access and Clinical Administration
      • Geriatrics and Extended Care Services
      • Homeless Program Office
      • Mental Health Services
        • National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
      • Office of Connected Care
      • Office of Research and Development
      • Women’s Health Services
    • Office of Communications
    • Office of Community Care
    • Office of Policy and Services
      • Office of Policy and Planning
    • Office of Research and Development
    • Office of Rural Health
    • Office of Strategic Planning
    • Office of the Deputy Under Secretary for Organizational Excellence
      • Office of Internal and Audit Risk Assessment
      • Office of Quality, Safety, and Value
    • Patient Care Services
    • Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System
  • Veterans Benefits Administration
    • Education Service
    • Office of Business Process Integration
    • Office of Disability Assistance
      • Benefits Assistance Service
      • Compensation Service
    • Office of Economic opportunity
      • Loan Guaranty Service
    • Office of Interagency Care Collaboration and Integration
    • Office of Management
    • Office of Strategic Planning
      • Office of Business Process Integration
    • Veterans Benefits Administration, Department of Defense Program Office

U.S. Small Business Administration


Commission on Accreditation of Health care Management Education

DC Department of Disability Services, Developmental Disabilities Administration

DC Department of Health Care Finance

Deloitte Center for Health Solutions

Georgetown University, School of Nursing & Health Studies

National Association of Community Health Centers

Precision for Medicine

The Commonwealth Fund

United Service Organizations

University of Michigan Health System

West Virginia State Legislature