Federal agencies spent about $20 billion more for contracts in fiscal 2019 than they did in fiscal 2018, GAO has said, adding that the breakdowns of contracts remained about the same.
DoD accounted for about $381 billion of the $586 billion total and non-defense agencies spent the rest, led by the Energy Department with more than $33 billion.
Non-defense agencies spent about four times as much on services as they did for goods while at DoD the split was about equal. Among non-defense agencies, the top category for services contracts was for professional and other services and the top for goods was drugs and biologicals. At DoD, they were professional and engineering/technical and fixed-wing aircraft, respectively.
Among non-defense agencies about 82 percent of contracts were awarded after competition but DoD’s rate was only about 54 percent, mostly for “large weapon systems like airplanes and ships.” The former rate is up about one percentage point in the last four years while the latter is down by about the same amount. However, GAO in a posting called special attention to the use of noncompetitive contracts, which it said “are risky because there’s no direct market comparison to help set the price.”
Other findings included that: nearly two-thirds of contracts were fixed-price, nearly a third were cost-reimbursement and the remainder time-and-labor based, and that the government fell slightly short of its goal of awarding a quarter of contract dollars to small businesses.