After two years of trying, ManTech International has sold its MSM Security Services subsidiary -- to its chief executive, for $3 million.

MSM conducts background checks on applicants for federal security clearances through contracts with the Defense Security Service. Fairfax-based ManTech bought the company for $4.6 million in 2003, hoping to profit from the sharp increase in requirements for private contractors to secure highly sought-after clearances.

The plan didn't work out. MSM has lost money for the past three years, and ManTech has been trying to sell it since April 2005. For accounting purposes, the unit has been treated as a discontinued operation on ManTech's financial statements since February 2005. Although several buyers expressed interest in the subsidiary, ManTech was never able to agree on terms for the transaction, said Kevin Phillips, ManTech executive vice president and chief financial officer.

ManTech "entered the [security investigation] business with the belief that its operating profile would change from a labor-intensive model to a technology services business consistent with ManTech's strategy and direction. This change did not occur, and the subsidiary is not aligned with ManTech's core business and strategic direction," said George J. Pedersen, chief executive and chairman.

In a statement, Pedersen said MSM has been a "persistent cause of concern for our shareholders."

Once MSM returns to private ownership and does not have to deal with the pressures of being a public company, Pedersen expects it to return to profitability.

MSM's management team will remain in place. The company employs about 2,400 part-time investigators in the United States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The sale is expected to close by month's end.

Dulles Chamber ExpandsThe Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce opened a larger office in Chantilly this week to serve the influx of businesses moving into western Fairfax County, especially along the Routes 28 and 50 corridors. The chamber, which has been headquartered in Herndon for 48 years, opened a small satellite office in Chantilly almost two years ago.

With the expanded space, the chamber will have dual headquarters in both locations to "follow the business development," said Eileen Curtis, the chamber's president and chief executive.

"This space sends a strong message to the community that we are indeed here to serve them," Curtis said. "This is the corridor that's absolutely booming."

The new office is one block from Routes 28 and 50 -- the core of new development, she said.

The chamber has 850 business members, mostly concentrated along Route 28 in western Fairfax and eastern Loudoun counties. It will hold a grand opening March 28.

Group's Anniversary a Big Draw Nearly 800 people attended last week's luncheon to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Northern Virginia Chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association.

The organization's events, usually at Sheraton Premiere at Tysons Corner, are considered key networking opportunities for information technology professionals who contract with the military.

The chapter initially began as a division of the District's chapter and attracted about 200 attendees to its first meeting in February 1977.

Today, the Northern Virginia chapter is the largest in the country, boasting 6,000 members and events so packed that the Sheraton often doesn't have enough parking spaces for all attendees.

Rear Adm. Elizabeth A. Hight, the principal director for operations for the Defense Information Systems Agency, congratulated the organization's achievements in the past three decades. She reminded the government contractors in the room they have a long way to go.

"The Department of Defense has to be more specific about the capabilities they need," Hight said. "And you have to continue working together to ensure we have the best services to support our mission."