Published: May 31, 2016
Those who are interested in topics like government spending, defense, or uh, public sector consulting may recall that, back in 2013, an arcane piece of legislation known as the budget sequester kicked in. Essentially designed to provide a threat grave enough to spur a deadlocked Congress into action on reducing spending, the legislation promised a series of automatic, arbitrary cuts instead, with the aim of achieving a cumulative savings of around $1.1 trillion by 2021.
As you probably know, while this was not the outcome that anyone admitted to wanting, it is what we ended up with—and a bunch of government departments and contractors have been figuring out how to do more with less ever since.
Leaving aside the politics of how all that happened, there's no denying that it's had a serious effect on the defense contracting industry. In 2013, according to government data the top 100 federal defense contractors took home some $255.6 billion for their services. By 2015, that number had dropped to $238.5 billion: a decrease of around 7.2%. Imagine the effects on your company or industry if your largest customer cut spending that margin--with a guarantee that they were going to continue cutting every year until the end of the decade.
But that doesn't mean that the pain has been spread evenly: a quick glance at the performance of the top 3 firms on Vault's Aerospace and Defense Consulting ranking shows that two of the firms—Northrop Grumman and Booz Allen Hamilton—actually pulled in 6% and 3.1% more respectively in 2015 from government contracts than in 2013. Lockheed Martin, though—the most prestigious firm in the field, according to our rankings—saw its take of government spending drop by around 21.7%, down from $44.1 billion in 2013 to $36.3 billion in 2015.
Of course, all of that may simply be cyclical, but it's a useful indicator nonetheless of the perils of the consulting business, and the difficulty in planning hiring from year to year in an unstable environment.
Not that you should feel too bad: as this chart from Statista indicates, there's still a lot of money flowing around the defense budget (note that the chart only shows DoD spending; all figures cited earlier are cumulative government spending with each firm, which explains the discrepancies):
Find more statistics at Statista
With the consulting survey having closed recently, one of the things I'll be taking a look at in the coming weeks is the outlook of consultants in different corners of the industry—and I'll be paying especially close attention to defense contractors, in light of this reality.
Those of you who work in consulting can finally rest easy: you won't be receiving any more emails asking you to participate in our consulting survey this year--we closed it out for the year yesterday, and will shortly begin the hard work of reading and collating all 17,000+ responses in time for the rollout of our 2017 rankings this fall.
That's no easy task: as you can see from the infographic below, we smashed our previous all-time response rate by more than 20%--proof, if any were needed, that the consulting industry is going from strength to strength right now.
The question of why you would choose one firm over another as an employer is something that greatly interests us here at Vault—so much so, that we put the question into our annual consulting industry survey, so that we can find out what makes consultants tick.
With the hard work of preparing and launching our 2016 survey out of the way (it opened for responses last week—if you're a practicing consultant and want to take it, feel free to get in touch, or contact an HR representative at your firm), I went back and took a look at the selection factor data from 2015, with one particular question in mind: is there any difference between consultants at the top firms, and those in the rest of the industry?
Internships are a reality that every student in their later years of school are faced with. While universities try their best to place students in their dream jobs, the question of what one’s dream job is continues to plague the minds of every student!
Is my dream job what I think it is, or is it something I am meant for but have never had the opportunity to experience? Well, maybe one of the best ways to find out would be to try out—and what better way to try out a “dream” job than having a small test run or, to put it differently, getting an internship in a field one aspires to be in.
Each year, Vault surveys thousands of current and former interns at more than 100 internship programs to create our annual Internship Rankings. Last year, we asked 12,000 interns to rate their programs in a variety of areas, including quality of projects, real-life experience, networking opportunities, training and mentoring, and more.