Making the list

It is arguable that lists, much like statistics, can be used to support varying, and even opposing, viewpoints. The methodology and criteria that list-compilers choose determine who comes out on top and who may not make a list at all.

We hope that readers will keep this in mind when browsing Federal Computer Week's third annual Federal List report, which shows how federal contractors stack up in a number of categories. One list, by its very nature, is subjective.

The list of the 10 hottest companies to watch is a compilation of opinions and educated guesses from long-standing government and industry information technology executives about which companies offer innovative technologies that could solve some of federal agencies' most pressing problems.

The other lists are more objective, based on data the federal government collects. For example, the General Services Administration's list of top schedule holders shows Dell Computer Corp. continuing to hold the top spot based on GSA schedule sales. While this year's lists hold true to past trends, they also offer some surprises. New companies have catapulted into the elite top 25 GSA schedule sales leaders, such as Accenture, reflecting changes in what the government is buying.

One of the more profound shifts appeared in the top 20 systems integrators list, compiled by the research firm Eagle Eye Publishers Inc. using specific criteria. For the first time since FCW began publishing the top integrator list, Lockheed Martin Corp. did not place No. 1, slipping to No. 3. Science Applications International Corp. and Computer Sciences Corp. had more integrator revenue, as defined by FCW, in fiscal 2000. The final list shows how 8(a) firms stack up and how these companies continue to struggle in the post-procurement reform era.

Some may argue about how the lists are compiled, but taken as a whole, the lists and the accompanying features provide an accurate snapshot of the changes in the federal IT market and government operations.

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