SAS, the world’s largest privately held software company, sees the federal government as a source for potential growth and is setting up a new subsidiary to focus on that market.

The government operations group will include more than 50 people who will be reassigned within SAS, the company announced Monday. Additional hires are planned, SAS added. SAS employs more than 10,600 people worldwide.

A name for the new business unit has not been determined, a company spokesperson said, but hiring is already under way.

“Approximately 50 [people] will be allocated initially, but additional hiring of people with domain expertise and appropriate security clearances will follow,” said SAS spokesperson Trent Smith. “I can’t give you an exact number.”

The core group will include people from SAS’ Cary campus and its office in Arlington, Va.

According to SAS, opportunities exist to help the government better integrate data and analysis in the post-Sept. 11, 2001, world. SAS announced the new group at its "Executive Conference for Government” in Washington.

“The events of 9/11 were a wake-up call: We need to do a better job of understanding potential threats to our country,” said Tom Mazich, SAS vice president of government operations, who will lead the new group. “There is so much data from so many different sources – human intelligence, ‘open source’, and even that gathered by technology – that is significant to safeguarding the United States.

“The intelligence and homeland security communities must be able to make sense of all this data in a timely manner so they can make critical decisions. SAS technology will be a major contributor to helping the government fully understand its information,” he added.

SAS is already widely used within the government, including agencies within 15 departments, but Mazich said a group focused on those services can better deliver sales and support.

Mazich is already based in Virginia.

The subsidiary will not include SAS’ State and Local Government Practice.