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Empower AI Opens New Facility in Richmond to Support Growth Strategy


Originally published in WashintonExec.


For years, Empower AI has been on a transformation journey marked by new capabilities around emerging technologies and capped by a total rebranding announced in June. Now, the longtime government solutions provider has opened a new 19,000-square-foot office in Richmond built to accommodate its focus on artificial intelligence, the emerging needs of a modern workforce and the ongoing security considerations of its clients.


The Richmond office at 8701 Park Central Drive is equipped to serve the roughly 150 team members in the area. It replaces an older facility about 2 miles away and features areas designed specifically to accommodate the company’s ongoing contracts with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.


“Our AI capabilities have really been the catalyst for our growth,” said Chuck Hicks, Empower AI chief financial officer and chief operations officer. “We have at this point won over $1.5 billion in new AI-centric-enabled work. We are continually expanding our presence and our capabilities to support our customers, and we are exceptionally proud of our diverse and thoughtful workforce.”


The new office building is light, airy and intentionally open. It’s designed with separate 900-square-foot production/scanning rooms to accommodate the two separate CMS contracts that review claims and payment files in a secure, on-premise data center where workers harness the power of AI, machine learning and robotic process automation to ensure the integrity of the programs.


“We get tens of thousands – hundreds of thousands – of pages of medical claims and medical payments that we have to scan into the system,” Hicks said, “and we have to do that in two separate rooms for each program.”


In September 2021, Empower AI won a $112 million prime contract extension from CMS to expand the use of AI solutions, including RPA and ML, to review the medical claims and advance the agency’s work on the payment integrity programs known as Comprehensive Error Rate Testing, or CERT, and Payment Error Rate Measurement, or PERM. Empower AI has worked with CMS for more than 20 years and has supported government missions for well over 30 years.


The company celebrated its largest contract ever with a December 2020 agreement with the CMS DIGIT program. For the last four years, the company has used AI, RPA and ML on CMS contracts. Those capabilities are only improving with the rollout of several new solutions this year alone.


“Expanding our presence and capabilities to support our customers in the region is an important part of our growth strategy, and we are excited to begin this new chapter of innovation for our company,” said Empower AI President and CEO Paul A. Dillahay.

The new space has 10 offices – all with glass windows – low-rise cubicles in an open 7,000-square-foot area, a 1,200-square-foot collaboration area that includes a space with a glass barn door that opens out to a larger area.


“It was also designed with furniture that is very flexible,” Hicks said. “It can be moved around and configured in any manner that would help our teams work together, specifically our development teams as they’re thinking about implementation of new products for that particular contract.”


There is also a 700-square-foot area for the new data center that features redundant HVAC, redundant power and strict security features that meet federal program standards.


And it includes a 1,700-square-foot, state-of-the-art training room that connects to a 600-square-foot kitchen and break area that features comfortable furniture, a TV, refrigerator and a place to play video games or shuffleboard.

Hicks took over facilities in the summer of 2019 – when the company was still known as NCI – and construction at headquarters had already started. He soon halted the process to get a better sense of direction, led discussions with various teams and learned there was a desire for more natural light, glass conference rooms and agile furniture.


Empower AI contracted with RSC-PMC for project management, OTJ as the architect and Right Angle Contracting for the buildout. The result is a design he said boosts employee morale.


“When we had our ribbon cutting (on July 20), we had our employees come for the celebration and they were very excited about the way the new facility looked and felt for them,” Hicks said. “It is more open, more collaborative, and we heard many of them say, ‘Wow, I’m going to want to come to the office now.’”


The majority of Richmond-area workers will continue to work from home, but another 30 to 50 will occupy the office on any given day including employees who oversee the data center and security and others who physically scan sensitive documents.


The Richmond office is the newest of Empower AI’s facilities. The company is also in the process of building a 3,300-square-foot facility in Tucson, Arizona. Its headquarters remains its largest facility and is in Reston. There is also a 3,000-square-foot facility in Sierra Vista.