Ross Wilkers

MARKET OUTLOOK

The 'ifs' to ponder for 2021

Congratulations on getting to the end of 2020 however you got there. Now that we've closed the book on 2020, how about walking through and pondering some of the "if" scenarios and questions that hover over the 2021 government market?

Disagreement and pushback welcome.

If they’re right in saying 2021 is looking a lot like 2020 in the business of government contracting…

Then that implies we likely will not (for the most part) see winners and losers in 2021. The Biden budget blueprint for 2022 will give a glimpse at winners and losers though.

If no one, including many in the public sector ecosystem, believes we are going back to how and where work was done before COVID-19…

Then this is where every company and agency has to think bigger about who to hire and which geographies to hire from, especially in the classified arena. We also present one near-certainty: the commercial real estate business is going to see a massive reset.

If we said last year that the Defense Department’s CMMC cyber certification would change the market in ways not to be understood for many years…

Then we are slightly holding to that outlook as industry still is figuring out how to get in line with CMMC. But it is now officially getting entered into contracts both defense and civilian, so no turning back.

If we also said last year that the impact of Amazon’s second headquarters in greater Washington, D.C. will not be fully understood for many years…

Then reference section two of this walkthrough for 2021 when gauging the human capital impacts of remote work this year. HQ2 remains a feather in the D.C. economy’s cap regardless.

If the JEDI cloud infrastructure contract is foundational to the Defense Department’s cloud journey

Then where has DOD’s senior leadership gone that otherwise would defend it? Other than the lawyers defending DOD's choice of Microsoft in court, only the chief information officer remains. Nearly all the others have moved on. Oh and a new administration takes hold Jan. 20.

If the ongoing shift of contracting information to Beta.Sam.Gov is still not getting a warm reception from industry…

Then complaints are still falling on deaf ears. More than once, a Beta.Sam.Gov notice has included a link to visit FBO.gov for more information and the alerts simply stop coming into our inboxes. Still confusing is how Beta.Sam.Gov and FPDS.gov co-exist even with official explanations.

If unpriced bids for the ASTRO unmanned product and services vehicle are getting a warm reception from industry and even inside the General Services Administration…

Then we also have to watch if other agencies follow GSA’s lead in pushing pricing and competition to the task order level. Also to watch -- whether that changes the point of argument/protest to the task order level.

If the small business community is worried that a change in administration and hence GSA administrator would disrupt their Polaris and STARS III plans…

Then fear not after reading this. Just don’t.

If you’re looking for the next significant landscape-setting contract in the government technology and professional services arena with NGEN and DEOS effectively moving ahead…

Then look no further than the $11 billion Enclave opportunity with the Defense Information Systems Agency, which will pick *one* systems integrator to rule them all in the Fourth Estate. Sound familiar?

If there is anywhere between a reported $1.5 trillion and $2 trillion of unused private equity funds waiting in the wings…

Then it’s also worth remembering the money has to go somewhere, so why not use some of it in the government market that has shown relative resilience during COVID-19 economic dysfunction? Not doing the homework and biting off more than one can chew though is always a risk.

If the past four years have seen at least one true, multibillion dollar megadeal each year…

Then we’ll state the obvious and say we see at least one more in 2021. See above for one group of buyers. Churn in the number of publicly-traded companies is also on the table. Direct quote from a fund manager: "Everyone is considering doing something."

If the government market saw two public listings in 2020 after one in each of the two years prior to that…

Then we’re at least hopeful of another one in 2021 as public listings are good for the market. But we can never count on it of course. Good news though: the Securities and Exchange Commission just made public listings easier.

If you’re looking for any specifics on who and where a GovCon public listing could happen eventually…

Then watch this interview and file it in the memory bank. While there is no magic revenue number, some companies just get too big to stay private. Even in government IT and services, where “Reverse Morris Trust” is in the fabric.

If DOD and antitrust regulators continue to view megadeals among hardware companies through a vastly different lens than the services players…

Then let’s pose this rhetorical question: how will they feel about services companies increasingly moving into certain aspects of hardware?

Last but not least: If you feel like just getting to the end of 2020 was an accomplishment in itself…

Then that’s because it’s true. Hopefully, you got some rest over the holidays.

About the Author

Ross Wilkers is a senior staff writer for Washington Technology. He can be reached at rwilkers@washingtontechnology.com. Follow him on Twitter: @rosswilkers. Also connect with him on LinkedIn.

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