No sitting ducks here

Don't let the relative stability of the Top 100 fool you. Great changes are underway.

But what you don’t see is how frantically the duck is paddling beneath the surface to create that illusion of calm. To me that’s what’s happening with the companies on the Top 100. If you just look at the surface – the names and ranks of the companies on the Top 100 – there is little change. There are 11 new companies on the list; and only one change in the top 20. Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman securely hold their traditional No. 1 and No. 2 spots, respectively. If that is all you are looking at, the Top 100 might be a big yawn. But to borrow another metaphor, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There is great change underway in the Top 100. There are several new big dogs up and down the list. Major acquisitions have caused some traditional names such as Vangent and Apptis to drop off. The companies are frantically preparing for life with shrinking budgets. There is a rush to the few bright spots in the budget where growth actually is expected to continue. The contractors on the Top 100 know that the mission of government isn’t shrinking, just the budgets, so the mantra of the day is efficiency. These market-leading companies are helping customers become more efficient through the use of technology such as cloud computing and mobility. But they also are aggressively making themselves more efficient, so we’ve seen layoffs and restructurings. We’ve also seen divestitures as companies focus resources on their core capabilities. So don’t be fooled by how little the Top 100 changes. That’s just the surface. Dive into this issue and the coverage on our website and you’ll see just how dynamic the market is.

We like to refer to the companies on the Top 100 as the big dogs of the market, hence our annual bulldog cover.

This year, though, a more appropriate metaphor might be a duck, but not a sitting duck.

Instead, I’m thinking of the proverbial duck that seems to glide effortlessly across the pond, a picture of tranquility.