Watchdog: Follow the Money

Shutdown or no shutdown, government agencies keep spending

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Politics,Watchdog,Watchdog Blog,Waste and Fraud,Follow the Money,Budgets and Deficits,Government Shutdown,Justice Department,Ethan Barton

Government agencies may have furloughed employees and blocked access to public sites, but they haven't stopped spending money.

On the first day of the government shutdown, federal agencies awarded 26 contracts worth more than $130 million. The contracts ranged from chemical paint remover for the Air Force to "academic uniform shirts" for the Department of Labor.

In comparison, on Sept. 24, one week before the shutdown, the government spent about $122 million. And on Monday, the day before the government shutdown, almost five times as many contracts were awarded.

With the end of the fiscal year looming and the threat of a shutdown at midnight, the federal government's spending spree on Monday amounted to nearly $500 million for 121 federal contracts, almost 40 more contracts than on Sept. 24, the Tuesday prior to the shutdown.

On Tuesday, the day of the shutdown, agencies awarded about $8 million more than the previous Tuesday, with 52 fewer contracts.

Agencies spent about $5 million per contract on Oct. 1, compared to an average of $1.5 million per contract on Sept. 24. On Monday, the day before the shutdown, the average contract amount was about $4 million.

For instance, Raytheon was awarded a contract modification of $230 million to operate radar. The Defense Logistics Agency posted 27 contracts for things like "battery storage," all at 1:30 p.m., totaling more than $2 million.

Other examples of last-minute contracts included a contract for up to $796,920 for “airfield specialized trucks and trailers” and more than $38,000 for chapel chairs and altar.

Contracts awarded after the government shutdown didn't appear to be emergency items, as evidenced by the labor department's academic uniform shirts. On Wednesday, the Department of Justice awarded $31,800 for “cotton flannel material for gloves.”

These figures from the Federal Business Opportunities website exclude awards that were pre- or post-dated. For example, a contract awarded after the government shutdown but approved beforehand was not included. Contracts with estimated values were included, though these did not change values for Tuesday.

All values were found by adding the amount posted and awarded on the specified day.

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Ethan Barton

Special to Washington Examiner
The Washington Examiner