No. 3: Northrop's crystal ball
A knack for anticipating and addressing market trends keeps company riding high
Northrop Grumman Corp.'s Linda Mills has
taken the reins of the company's $4.5 billion
information technology unit in McLean, Va., at
a time when federal budgets are tightening and
a presidential transition looms.
She's leading the IT services component of
the largest and fastest-growing division of
Northrop Grumman, and the sector is wellpositioned
to benefit from the continued
demand for technology in homeland security,
intelligence, military and health care for federal,
state and local agencies.
The company's $12.6 billion Information and
Services division ? which includes IT, Mission
Systems and Technical Services ? enjoyed an 11
percent growth rate in the past year, Mills said.
With federal prime-contracting revenue of
$7.9 billion in 2007,
Northrop Grumman coasts
in at No. 3 on this year's Top
Mills began her role as
corporate vice president and
president of Northrop
Grumman IT May 1, succeeding
James O'Neill, who
retired. She said serving a
broad array of clients is an
"We are proud to serve a diverse customer set
that spans military, intelligence, civil federal
agencies and state/local government," Mills said.
"This diverse mix enables us to grow as
budget priorities shift," she added. "Tight budgets
are always a two-edged sword: The pressure
to do more with less drives demand for IT
because IT drives productivity. On the other
hand, it can slow new system starts."
In a headline-grabbing win, Northrop
Grumman and the parent company of
Airbus beat Boeing Co. earlier this year for
a $40 billion Air Force tanker contract.
In 2007, Northrop Grumman IT had
several major wins, including a $267 million
award for the Army's Defense
Knowledge Online Web portal and a
$220 million deal for data storage at
NASA. The company was one of 16 contractors
chosen to participate in a massive
Medicare and Medicaid governmentwide
acquisition contract. However, it has lost a
few contracts, notably the FBI's Next
Generation Identification project.
The IT unit is also active in the intelligence
community, state and local governments
in the United States, and the
Mills said the need
for greater efficiency
and homeland security
to drive the demand for
IT solutions, such as
information sharing and
"Demand for IT across
the government continues
to be strong as agencies seek innovative ways to
more effectively perform their mission while at
the same time improving efficiency," Mills said.
Northrop Grumman's Information and
Services division has grown partly through
strategic acquisitions, said Bob Kipps, managing
director at KippsDeSanto and Co., an
investment banking firm.
"They have acquired very high-quality businesses
with high-level capabilities and effectively
integrated them," he said. "Northrop
Grumman is as well-positioned as anyone."
Mills said she views IT as playing a critical
role in government, no matter who wins the
The candidates face the same challenges: the
war in Iraq, economic issues in the United
States, the environment, immigration and
health care, among others, she said. "IT plays a
critical role in meeting these challenges irrespective
of policy," Mills said. "For example, in
health care, whether we go to a national system,
mandated health insurance or some other
approach, IT will be critical to reducing costs
and improving quality of care."