Trends driving today's Top 100 ANDREY DENISYUK

Commercial tech, space and partnerships are keys to success for many of the biggest companies in the federal market.

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

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

We noticed several patterns in the 2024 Top 100 after calculating the prime contract obligations.

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 Origin at No. 72.

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 -- the importance of commercial technology partnerships. Nearly every company on the list does business with commercial entities and 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 and many civilian agencies, customers want a commercial solution rather than building something from scratch.

Up and down 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 hosting providers and platform-as-a-service companies.

The mindset for many government contractors is to lean on their expertise with the customer and mission, 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 Technologies.

A second major transaction is pending with Amentum (No. 21) planning to merge with the government technology businesses of Jacobs (No. 18). That 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.

Jacobs will likely not drop off the Top 100, but it should fall significantly as Amentum jumps up the rankings.

The 2024 Top 100 is also the eighth consecutive year of growth in the total value of the prime contract obligations taken in by the companies. This year's total hit $162 billion, 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 companies are founder-led companies
  • 18 companies have women CEOs, including three in the top 12.
  • 9 companies are employee-owned
  • 7 are family-owned, including Bechtel. The global engineering and construction giant is led by 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 at No. 34 and Guidehouse at No. 36.

Given their private equity ownership, that dozen is definitely worth watching. But then again, so is the entire Top 100.