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Wisconsin Spotlight | Sept 10, 2020 

For federal contractors, Christmas comes in September. 

During the previous two federal fiscal years, the largest federal agencies spent a combined $188 billion in September, according to a report by OpenTheBooks.com. 

The Federal Government’s Use-it-or-lose it Spending Spree,” tracks contacts issued during the last month of the federal fiscal year — September — and the flurry of activity that happens in a bloated bureaucracy conditioned to spend. 

Fed contracts hit $91 billion in September 2019, and $97 billion in the same month in 2018. 

“Much of the excessive spending was waste. Every dime was borrowed – which added to our nation’s $26.6 trillion national debt,” asserts the report’s authors, Adam Andrzejewski, founder and CEO of OpenTheBooks, and Thomas W. Smith, the government watchdog’s chairman. 

Here’s a closer look at the numbers, according to OpenTheBooks.com.


$23.8 billion in contracts flowed during the final two business days of the 2019 fiscal year. Monday, September 30, the last day, broke all records: $12.2 billion. Friday, September 27, the second to last business day, recorded $11.6 billion. 


$51 billion flowed to federal contractors during the last nine days of the fiscal year – an amount that exceeded all other months (October 2018 through August 2019). The only days under $1 billion in procurement were on weekends or the Labor Day holiday.


In 2019, federal agencies spent $91 billion on 642,567 transactions – an average of $3 billion on 21,418 transactions each day. During a 2-year period, the year-end spending spree totaled $188 billion (Sept. 2018 & 2019). 


Alcohol ($502,026); guns and ammunition at non-military, non-law enforcement agencies like Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs, and ED ($1.5 million); games, toys and musical equipment including pianos, flutes, and French horns ($3.7 million); lobster tail and snow crab ($4.6 million); golf carts, motorcycles, scooters, bicycles ($6.2 million); books and pamphlets ($23 million); workout and recreation equipment ($25.1 million); batteries ($53 million); vehicles ($253.8 million); public relations and marketing ($456.8 million); and furniture ($457.8 million).

“Arguably, the year-end spending spree was the largest extravaganza of taxpayer abuse in U.S. government history – until the coronavirus bailouts during the spring and summer of 2020,” the report states. 

Budget expectation feeds the buying binge. Federal bureaucrats have little incentive to spend less. If they do, Congress might get the idea that the thriftier agency doesn’t need as much money in the next fiscal budget. Not that Congress is known for its frugality, but bureaucrats aren’t taking any chances. 

Roughly, $1 in every $6 in federal contracts on the year went out-the-door in the last month (15.9 percent), according to the report. (The federal government spent $575 billion contracting (FY2019). 

Reform legislation has been introduced. In June, U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), chairman of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, said he would support a floor amendment to stop use-it-or-lose-it spending at the Department of Defense. The agency procured $57.5 billion in contracts during the last month of the 2019 fiscal year, according to the report. 

In May, U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), introduced the End-of-Year Fiscal Responsibility Act, aimed at ending wasteful spending. 

Read more at OpenTheBooks.com

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