About This Issue

The Top 200 Federal Contractors issue is our annual snapshot of the companies that receive the largest amount of procurement dollars from federal agencies. The issue contains not only the Top 200 list, but separate rankings for the Defense Department, civilian agencies as a whole, information technology purchases, small business contracting, and the biggest individual agency purchasers.

Our data-processing partner, Eagle Eye Publishers Inc., now part of Bloomberg LP, combs through federal procurement data each year for us, making sense of all the variables that come into play to generate the lists that appear in these pages.

The data are contained in the General Services Administration's Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation for fiscal 2009. The system's information is based on contracting reports filed by agencies. Most vendors in the rankings are private, for-profit U.S. companies. Universities, nonprofit institutions and foreign-owned firms also are represented.

Eagle Eye analyzes the data to generate lists of parent companies. Then, outlays to subsidiaries are "rolled up" to the parent. That provides a more accurate view of the amount of dollars that flow to the largest federal contractors. Then we double-check the lists to root out errors in data reported by agencies.

For joint ventures, we assigned each partner an equal portion of payments made under the contract in fiscal 2009. Mergers and acquisitions are not reflected in the listings unless they became final before the fiscal year ended.

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