In summer 2008, the U.S. military had a major problem. More than 2,400 service members had reported being sexually assaulted the previous year, and the number was rising. Congress wanted immediate action.
The Army responded by reaching out to a tiny firm in Delaware.
It was an unlikely choice for such a sensitive task. The year before, United Solutions and Services, known as US2, had just three employees and several small contracts for janitorial services and other work. It was based in a four-bedroom colonial, where the founder worked out of his living room.
But the firm had one quality the Army prized: It was co-owned by an Alaska native corporation (ANC) and therefore could receive federal contracts of any size without competition, under special set-aside exemptions granted by Congress to help impoverished Alaska natives.