The novel coronavirus pandemic largely contributed to the increase, Bloomberg Government reports.
Civilian agencies’ contract spending hit a record high of $228 billion in fiscal 2020, an increase of 17% ($33.5 billion) from 2019. The surge in spending is mainly due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs and Energy departments drove the increase in spending, Bloomberg Government said in a report. Of the $228 billion, 26% or $59.4 billion went to small businesses, a $6.5 billion increase from fiscal 2019.
“In previous years there’s been single digit jumps, so this is a huge jump compared to previous years,” Robert Levinson, senior defense analyst at Bloomberg Government, told Government Executive. He noted that there is a 90-day delay for the Defense Department’s contract spending for security purposes and there is also classified spending that will never be released.
HHS, which spent $41.2 billion in fiscal 2020 in contract obligations, accounted for 44% of the $33.5 billion in overall increased civilian contract spending. The majority of HHS’ spending was for vaccines, research, ventilators and other pandemic-related efforts. Some of these contracts, such as for a public relations campaign to “inspire hope” about the pandemic and new data reporting system, have drawn concern from Democratic lawmakers.
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