Space among trends driving today's Top 100

For the biggest companies, commercial tech, space and partnerships are keys to success in the federal market.

The 2024 Washington Technology Top 100 rankings reveals a market that is changing the way it does business.

While Leidos is the No. 1 for the eighth straight year (and longer if you count its Lockheed Martin heritage), the stability at the top should not be mistaken for stagnation.

As we developed the 2024 Top 100 – based on prime contract obligations – we noticed several patterns emerge.

Space is big among the largest contractors in the market. Eight of the Top 100 companies claim space as their primary line of business including SpaceX at No. 39, Sierra Nevada Corp. at No. 54, and Blue Origins at No. 72.

Meanwhile, space is critical to many companies up and down the list as it grows as a warfighting domain and a critical component of the U.S. and global economy.

Space is closely tied to another trend we are tracking and that’s the importance of commercial technology partnerships. Nearly every company on the list does business with commercial entities, particularly in areas such as cloud computing, communications, application development and cybersecurity.

For the most part that shift in the market has been driven by customers who want more innovation and demand commercial technologies. Across the Defense Department as well as many civilian agencies, customers want a commercial solutions rather than building something from scratch.

On the Top 100 we see growth among government contractors who embrace commercial partners and build practices around them. Traditional contractors have formed bonds with cloud service providers and platform-as-a-service providers.

The mindset for many government contractors is to leverage their expertise with the customer and mission and then apply the commercial technologies.

As they have for years, mergers and acquisitions continue to reshape the Top 100. Gone from the rankings this year are Cognosante, thanks to its acquisition by Accenture, and Aerojet Rocketdyne, which was acquired by L3Harris.

Another major acquisition is pending with Amentum (No. 21) planning to buy the tech business from Jacobs Engineering (No. 18). The transaction should close this summer but it might take a year or two for the Federal Procurement Data System to catch up and sort out what is still Jacobs and what is Amentum.

While Jacobs will likely not drop off the Top 100, it should fall significantly, while Amentum should make a jump up the rankings.

The 2024 Top 100 is also the eighth consecutive year of growth in the total value of the prime contracts won by the Top 100. This year the total hit $162 billion in value, up from $142 billion last year.

That huge leap has been driven by growing opportunities around cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and cloud computing. But it also reflects growth driven by federal mandates and spending initiatives such as the CHIPS Act and the infrastructure bills passed early in the Biden administration. Executive orders are around cyber and customer experience also are fueling growth in the market.

Will this level of growth continue? Maybe not at this pace but there are several factors that will continue to drive spending, including national security threats, climate change and health care challenges.

Here are some other facts and figures from the Top 100:

  • 23 - founder-led companies
  • 18 – women CEOs, including three in the top 12.
  • 9 – employee-owned companies
  • 7 – family-owned, including Bechtel, which is led by a Brendan Bechtel, the fifth generation to lead the company.

There also are 12 Top 100 companies owned by private equity. A few of them quite large such as Peraton at No. 11 and ManTech International at No. 16. Others include SMX Inc., ranked No. 34, and Guidehouse at No. 36.

Given their private equity ownership, these are definitely companies worth watching. But then again, so is the entire Top 100.