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While COVID-19 wreaks havoc across commercial markets, the federal IT market remains resilient

The predominance of the U.S. federal market is on display as most of the observed deceleration owes to the diminishing impact of strategic acquisitions made by federal IT vendors prior to 2019 and the sharp slowdown in overall M&A through 1Q20. The latter trend will be exacerbated by the coronavirus outbreak as acquisition activity grinds to a near complete halt in conjunction with the turbulence in global capital markets. IT spending by the civilian agencies of international governments was also affected by the pandemic, with some ongoing IT programs furloughed temporarily or indefinitely, while others saw their funding redirected to emergency public health initiatives in response to the outbreak. Buffering these headwinds was the continuance of defense modernization programs, particularly in Europe, Australia and the Middle East, though the negative effects of declining oil prices may impact the latter market.

TBR’s Public Sector IT Services Benchmark compares and contrasts the included vendors’ go-to-market models, recent investments and key deal wins. Additionally, the benchmark reviews a number of key financial performance metrics and highlights vendors that have been particularly successful in expanding market share and improving profitability.

2019 Public Sector Predictions: Ethics compound complexity as federal agencies rush to embrace commercial IT innovations

The march of technology challenges humans to keep up, leading to difficult conversations for the many technology firms clamoring for a slice of federal IT modernization spend

In 2018 U.S. federal government policy and budget aligned to amplify excitement around the long-promised application of private sector IT innovations to public sector missions. We began to see action as government policies such as the President’s Management Agenda and National Defense Strategy combined with a bipartisan budget agreement to send a clear message that government agencies need to embrace cloud operating models and explore new technologies to reduce costs, move faster and serve constituents more effectively.

In a prevailing movement TBR calls Wallet vs. Will, the federal market’s pursuit of commercial IT represents a fundamental shift from traditional procurement models predicated on bespoke, costly and difficult-to-replace proprietary technology to a more agile model leveraging configurable off-the-shelf solutions enabled by open standards. In the old model, prohibitive cost was the primary impediment to moving technology forward, driving top-down commercialization models out from the Pentagon, or the wallet holder. In the emerging model, the axis has flipped as technology is no longer the problem but rather the will of the humans interacting with technology has become the main obstacle to keeping up with technological advancement.

As technology moves forward at breakneck pace, government policy and regulations will struggle to keep up. Law as the codification of an agreed-to set of ethical standards remains woefully behind as society struggles with the implications of technology development on myriad issues, from a citizen’s right to privacy to warfighting. In 2019 familiar market trends such as transformative M&A in the IT industry broadly and in the federal services market specifically will continue to reshape the market and create new disruptions. However, we believe that the continued ethical debate around emerging technologies, as much as who holds the innovative IP around those technologies, will help shape the competitive landscape in the years ahead.