One way to get a sense of the current health and future outlook for the federal market is to look at the percent of total outlays invested in management consulting by agency over time. The table below contains just that-- a select set of civilian agencies and their contracts beginning in 2008.
You'll first notice that- relative to the overall budget- management consulting is truly a fraction. Keep in mind that the calculation comes from the total agency outlay which includes both mandatory and discretionary funds. Of course, management consulting doesn't really compete with farm subsidies or Medicare. But, looking at the proportions this way, you can infer how much wiggle room our clients really have to make changes in their organizational effectiveness, augment analytical decision support, develop long-term strategies, make IT improvements (though not all of these expenses are captured), and other consulting-y type services.
A couple of agencies kind of caught my attention-- Commerce, Education, Labor, and State have all been on the slight uptick over the last two to three years. Not surprisingly DHS is trending down but, as a relatively new agency, the overall investment in consulting is still high. Then there is HHS. Regardless of how you feel about the Affordable Care Act, it's clear that additional process and technical expertise is needed to launch this massive policy change. Guessing CGI need not apply.
All of the data used is publically available and can be downloaded from usaspending.gov and whitehouse.gov. Only a few cartwheels and conversions were needed to get these to match up. There are a ton of management consulting contracts NOT represented here. I just picked the big civilian agencies. If you don't see your agency of interest, let me know and I can send over the whole table.