Looking to better understand this SDVOSB, whose capabilities in intelligence integration, analysis, investigations and direct mission support have positioned it as leader within the U.S. intelligence, DOD, Homeland Security and Law Enforcement sectors, we caught up with Firebird AST CEO Randy Lange to learn more about this company’s focus on the mission, how that has led to success, and what’s next in the near future. 

Founded in the mission

From its founding in 2011, Firebird AST has focused on its niche within industry, providing deeply specialized analysis to the warfighter both at home and overseas in conflict zones. “Follow the money” was a key focus for Firebird AST before it was in vogue. In order to defeat IED devices overseas that were wounding and killing soldiers, Firebird AST worked to defeat the illicit money networks that funded the explosive devices. The firm developed an adjacent civilian capability focusing on investigations, fraud, anti money laundering, cryptocurrency, data analytics, and other mission driven support services. Based on this niche, its seasoned leadership team of Industry veterans, and an ethos of continuous improvement (ISO 9001 certified), Firebird AST has built its brand and success.

“As we have grown and added veterans we knew in Industry, people who were rooted in that investigative and analytical ecosystem–including former Federal agents and Operators– they in turn recommended people they knew. It became a network of networks of people not only interested in the work we were doing but who were known commodities with proven performance in these difficult to fill positions.”

Flat and Focused

Leveraging a leadership model that is very flat, Firebird AST is focused on ensuring the right people are brought into the circle as needed, and that voices are heard. “It doesn’t matter your title. We ask everyone to lean forward to ask the tough questions. No one worries about disagreeing with my perspective because we know it is about the mission and driving the best possible outcome for our clients and partners.”

That notion of putting ego aside for the betterment of the mission has evolved into a culture in which the individual is celebrated. Quarterly awards, with nominations driven by team, are celebrated, not for the cash bonus that goes along with it, but for the writeups and authentic acknowledgement of peers.

The company’s culture is also driven by a focus on professional development. “As an ISO 9001 company we are focused on continuous development and improvement. Understanding and valuing our people as our greatest assets, the opportunity to improve and move ahead is available to them as well.”

A Global Small Business

Supporting a team that stretches from Washington DC to Hawaii and across six time zones, Firebird AST works to stay connected to its people, and to have them come together as smaller entities, bonding, collaborating and celebrating together. “Wherever they are, whichever client they are supporting, we want them to know that we value them as a unique asset, that they are empowered to support their customer, and that the support they provide is valued.”

Not one to rest on its successes, culture is maintained and evolved through hard work, constant conversations, and not shying away from what may be tough conversations. “Any time someone leaves we want to know why. If it’s for a better opportunity or a greater challenge we celebrate that. If it is because there was something that was hard for them, we want to know that as well.  We can’t be better if we are afraid of people speaking honestly.” Those who may seek opportunities elsewhere become part of Firebird AST’s alumni network with an invitation to return if it makes sense.


Rather than assimilating various teams into one common framework, Firebird AST embraces and celebrates the diversity in experience, regional influences, and perspective that each member of its team brings. “One of the core skills in intelligence analysis involves understanding a broad range of things about the world and we believe expertise in that comes from the broadest set of people. We look to embrace the largest set of people we can to get top talent, and to understand this ever-complex world.”

Partner Lens

Leveraging relationships among its network of people and companies, Firebird AST continuously seeks partners who can help deliver on its customers’ needs. While there are those specifically tasked with growth and relationships, everyone across the team is tasked with identifying those needs, and potential partners who can meet the requirements.

Having seen continuous growth over the past decade plus, Firebird AST now has the past performance and perspective to compete independently, to bid things like OASIS plus and larger GWAC contracts as the driving force. “We are always looking for that next reliable partner, for that team with a culture that is aligned with ours, that will do what they say and say what they mean.”

What else does it take to be a good partner? Partners with deep data science expertise that allow Firebird AST to do more with the data that it is collecting, gathering, and analyzing, again to get to a mission outcome.. “It may not be companies with deep mission understanding, but instead, deep technical expertise and knowledge of the tools. Larger companies or staffing companies that bring scale are interesting, as are those with AI/ML, Systems and Network Engineering experience who can apply their knowledge to some of the difficult challenges we support.”

See and Be Seen

Looking to connect with Firebird AST to learn more about this team and the ‘cool’ work they are driving? You’ll find them at the Global Sof Week, and the VETS24 Conference in May, the Navy Gold Coast event in August, as well as others in the DC area and look forward to meeting with industry partners.

You can also check out Randy on his podcast – Small Business Set Aside where he speaks with GovCon voices and industry leaders on all things small business. As a side note, he is always looking for guests who have intel to help others navigate the small business environment and grow their companies.


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