Top 100: SAIC moves forward through transitions and transformations

SAIC is undergoing a major leadership change as well as the integration of a major acquisition as it focuses on growth and winning more contracts.

At Science Applications International Corp., 2018 was about integrating recent acquisitions and preparing for a changing of the guard as Chief Operating Officer Nazzic Keene prepares to take over when Chief Executive Officer Tony Moraco retires this summer.

Amid all that, the 50-year-old company was winning contracts, identifying areas of growth potential and amassing $4.66 billion in revenue, which then grew to $6.5 billion after the closing on the acquisition of engineering and logistics firm Engility Holdings in January. SAIC ended fiscal 2019 with a backlog of about $13.8 billion, up from $10.2 billion in fiscal 2018. The company holds the No. 9 spot on this year’s Top 100 list with $3.5 billion in prime contract obligations.

“We’ve really tried to focus on the people and components, align on the strategy… and really looked to make investments in areas that are going to drive growth around cyber, IT modernization, readiness and overall mission support as well as the intelligence community,” Moraco said.

Intelligence was an area in which Reston-based SAIC lacked a strong presence after its 2013 spinoff from Leidos and has become a focal point for it since then. To up its game in intell, SAIC acquired Engility for $2.5 billion. That moved SAIC’s intelligence portfolio to more than $1 billion and increased the workforce by 7,500 to 23,000, about 14,000 of whom have security clearances.

“It really establishes a very strong market position in the scale and capabilities of the people as well as our investment capacity to drive growth in this market,” Moraco said.

The Engility deal builds on SAIC’s 2015 acquisition of national security provider Scitor. Both moves are in line with SAIC’s Ingenuity 2025 strategy to drive long-term strategic, cultural and financial changes

“I’m very proud of the fact that principally through the Scitor and Engility Holdings acquisitions and some organic growth, we’ve been able to establish SAIC as a major contributor for system engineering and mission operations within the intelligence community as part of the broader national security interest for the United States,” Moraco said.

Another focus area for SAIC is space. So far, the company has supported more than 200 launches, systems engineering on payloads, and command and control in space operations. In 2018, it won a $58 million task order under the NASA Enterprise Applications Service Technologies 2 Master Agreement to manage the space agency’s IT infrastructure. More recently, it won NASA’s Safety and Mission Assurance Engineering Contract II, worth up to $292 million, to continue to serve the International Space Station and NASA programs in Houston and New Mexico.

Additionally, company leaders are tuned into the government’s information technology modernization efforts. One agency that SAIC has worked closely with is the Agriculture Department, where it has provided a framework for early cloud adoption, agile development and DevSecOps. In October 2018, the General Services Administration awarded SAIC three IT modernization Centers of Excellence awards to support USDA. Through those, the company will work on data analytics capacity building, data visualization and infrastructure optimization cloud adoption.

“IT modernization and cyber in particular is an area where you bring together different disciplines around information assurance, policy, DevSecOps, analytics pieces as we change out legacy infrastructures,” Moraco said. “IT modernization will be forever. That is a domain that changes based on advances in technology.”

SAIC is also watching the evolution of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence. Moraco sees it as part of a continuum of development that starts with analytics and moves to machine learning and AI.

“We are putting efforts around autonomy as it’s applying machine learning and artificial intelligence to really expand technical services out, and mission capabilities,” he said. “I think the combination of more analytics and artificial intelligence pushed to the end user on higher-end compute platforms is going to continue to change how we operate, how the U.S. government operates, and then the mission areas, we’ll stay aligned to those.”

Notable contract wins in 2018 include a $597 million award from the Navy for the production and delivery of integrated command, control, communications, computers, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems, networks and support equipment for use at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic. The Defense Logistics Agency awarded SAIC a $900 million contract to continue its role as lead supply-chain manager and integrator for the agency’s tire delivery program, and SAIC won a position on GSA’s Alliant 2 governmentwide acquisition contract, which has a $50 billion ceiling value.

Like other contractors in the federal space, SAIC has seen its share of challenges in the past year, including budget constraints, the government shutdown and political tensions. But the biggest challenge the industry faces is the limits on the technical workforce and the competition across sectors to attract top talent. The company addresses that by packaging SAIC as a career destination, recognizing staff contributions and tailoring benefits, Moraco said.

Moraco’s own contributions will be highlighted as he steps down as CEO on July 31. Keene’s tenure will begin the next day. After six months of succession planning, he is confident that SAIC will hold the course under the new leadership.

“I leave highly confident in the success of our future,” he said. “I think we’re set up for the next 50 years.”