Why The Government Is Probably About To Go On A Spending Spree

Rebecca Carroll | Nextgov,com | July 7, 2014

Agencies didn’t always save the bulk of their spending for September, but that’s how it has worked out recently – and this year, the pattern is especially pronounced, according to an analysis by Deltek.  Agencies will make 35.4 percent of their 2014 purchases between this month and the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, with most of that activity occurring in September, Deltek predicted. In a typical recent year, 32.4 percent of all spending took place in the fourth quarter, and 18 percent occurred in September alone, Deltek found.

The numbers are even higher for specific procurement types and at certain agencies. For instance, in the last five years, 39 percent of government information technology purchases were made in the fourth quarter.  “Agencies can hold off on software and IT equipment upgrades,” Carey Webster, Deltek’s director of federal information solutions, explained in a webinar. “At the same time, it’s very easy to procure these types of services quickly when there is money to burn.”

Large aerospace and defense acquisitions that take years to procure are less likely to take place quickly at the end of the year, which is why the Energy and Defense departments and NASA are the agencies least prone to balloon spending in the final quarter, as a percentage of their overall spending.  The State Department, meanwhile, makes more than half of its purchases -- 56 percent -- in the fourth quarter. Researchers didn’t know why this was the case; they checked for an anomalous year that may have thrown off the average, but larger fourth-quarter spending has been the norm at the department for the last five years, at least, Webster said...