ICF International, Inc. is a global consulting and technology services company. It is headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, with approximately 5,000 employees working in more than 65 offices around the globe. It provides strategic planning, research, program management, business process management, data analytics, technology, cybersecurity, marketing strategy and engagement marketing services, particularly in the areas of government, energy, environment, infrastructure, transportation, health, education, social programs, public safety and security, consumer and financial markets.
Founded in 1969, ICF initially focused on government contracts in the United States. In the 2000s, it grew its emphasis on commercial and international clients while expanding its digital and tech services. As of 2016, ICF revenues reached US $1.19 billion, and Forbes included the company on its 2017 lists of the best midsize companies in the U.S. and best management consulting firms.
ICF was founded in 1969 as the Inner City Fund. Its first president was Clarence "Lucky" Lester, a Tuskegee Airman, who was joined by three U.S. Department of Defense analysts. As a venture capital firm, Inner City Fund sought to finance and help minority-owned businesses win government contracts.
The company reorganized as a consulting firm and renamed itself ICF Incorporated. The firm switched gears from venture capital to consulting on energy issues for U.S. federal agencies, which was the company's main focus throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s. ICF acquired Kaiser Engineering in 1988 and went public in 1989. The combined company became known as ICF Kaiser. Under this banner, the company worked in consulting, engineering and construction services. ICF and Kaiser split in 1999 when an investment group bought the consulting business for about $70 million. In 2006, the consultancy was renamed ICF International and in September that year, the company went public, trading on the NASDAQ as ICFI. The company received criticism of its management of the Road Home program in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In an article in The Washington Post, the company said it had addressed problems raised in those criticisms, and that state and federal fraud-prevention rules were in flux and made the grants administration process more time-consuming. The company later supported the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts for the State of New Jersey.
Beginning in the 2000s, ICF grew in size and scope through a series of acquisitions. These acquisitions expanded the services offered by ICF and moved the traditional government contractor more into the commercial space. In 2007, federal, state and local government contracts generated 92 percent of company revenues. Commercial work, which accounted for 6 percent of revenues in 2007, grew to 20 percent of revenues by 2011. By the end of 2016, commercial work accounted for 35 percent of revenues.
About the same time ICF began expanding into commercial work, it also targeted international business as a way to grow. ICF acquired London-based GHK Holding Limited, a consulting agency working with government and commercial clients, in 2012. In 2014, it expanded its European presence with the acquisition of Mostra S.A. in Belgium. Through GHK and ICF Mostra, the company has worked with the European Commission.
ICF's biggest move came in 2014, when the firm acquired advertising agency Olson for $295 million. The company's work includes campaigns for Belize; Skittles, whose "Marshawn Lynch’s Skittles Press Conference" was named PRWeek's Product Brand Development Campaign of the Year in 2016; and Puppy Bowl sponsor Bissell. In 2016, ICF created ICF Olson, a division of marketing, digital, public relations, loyalty and customer relations management and social media. In addition to Olson, the new division absorbed other ICF acquisitions, including digital service firm Ironworks and engagement house CityTech.
ICF International rebranded as ICF in 2016.
ICF/ICF Olson experienced high growth in its public relations and digital business, PRWeek reported in 2017. According to PRWeek, U.S. revenues increased 9.5 percent to $131.7 million and global revenues were up 8.7 percent to $155.5 million from 2015 to 2016.
ICF is publicly traded on the NASDAQ. ICF is headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia. As of year-end 2016, ICF employed around 5,000 workers in 55 regional offices throughout the U.S. and 10 offices in other countries, including Belgium, Canada, China, India and the United Kingdom. Sudhakar Kesavan is chairman and chief executive officer. John Wasson is president and chief operating officer. James Morgan is chief financial officer.
The company provides management, technology and policy consulting, cybersecurity and implementation services in the following markets: government, energy, environment, infrastructure, transportation, health, education, social programs, public safety and security, consumer and financial. ICF initially focused on federal government consulting contracts in energy and the environment. While it continues to work in those areas, the company expanded its commercial work in recent years.
ICF's Integrated Planning Model (IPM) has been used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to project the impact of electric power business sector policies on the environment and to analyze the Clean Power Plan, Carbon Standards for New Power Plants, Mercury and Air Toxics Standards and the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. Other agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Surface Transportation Board and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, have used IPM.
The EPA has awarded contracts to ICF to assist with the agency's Energy Star program, including technical and analytical support. The company also conducts the Demographic and Health Survey funded by the United States Agency for International Development.
Below is a table of ICF's major acquisitions: