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October 14, 2006
The Answers To The FedSpending Pop Quiz

On October 3rd, I posted about the coming Internet sensation for pork-barrel spending foes: The interactive database provided by OMB Watch and the Sunlight Foundation holds five years of federal spending on contracts and grants, sortable by congressional district and containing plenty of details on the projects the money supported. The data comprises six years of spending, allowing for the proper historical context. OMB Watch and the Sunlight Foundation spent a lot of time and money on this project when the Coburn-Obama federal budget database seemed very unlikely to pass, and now it serves as a benchmark for pork investigators to demand from the federal site when it launches.

When I wrote the post, I had been given access to the beta site, but only on the condition that I didn't reveal any of the data -- which was really frustrating, because the site provided so many interesting nuggets of information. However, I did write a series of questions based on a few of the searches I ran, and promised that CQ readers could find the answers on the site. In case you haven't peeked at it yet, I'll give you the answer key to those questions now.

Pencils down, students!

1. What percentage of federal contracts come from full and open competitive bids?

For the six-year period provided by FedSpending, only 40.61% of all federal contracts come from full and open competitive bids in which multiple bids were received. Another 9.95% comes from full and open bid situations but where only the one bid was received, for a total of 50.56%. That number is not improving, either. in FY 2005, the combined categories only accounted for 47%.

25% of federal contracts come from no-bid awards, and that excludes follow-on contracts.

2. What contractor gets the highest percentage of federal contracts?

Lockheed Martin got 6.49% of all federal contracts for FY2005, which came to nearly $25 billion dollars. Only 37% of that came from full and open competition; the rest came from no-bids or excluded-sources bids. The second-highest category came from operation of government facilities, by the way, and not the defense materiel or R&D efforts which came in at positions 1, 3, 4, & 5.

3. What state has four of the top eight Congressional districts for federal grant recipients?

Florida. Connie Mack's FL-14 tops the list, followed by FL-13 at #3 (Katherine Harris), FL-2 at #6 (Allen Boyd), and FL-15 at #8 (Dave Weldon). FL-1 (Jeff Miller) comes in at #11. Where's Minnesota? Our first entry is at #43, with MN-04 (Betty McCollum). My own district, MN-02 (John Kline), comes it at #58.

4. Where does administrative/management support rank in the list of federal contract types?

It's the second-highest contract type awarded by the federal government, only outstripped by research and development. We spent $44.9 billion on it in FY2005. This is separate from facilities operation (#4, $21.1B). It far outpaces what we spent on aircraft and aircraft parts (#6, $17.6B) and ships (#19, $6.6B). Bear in mind that the contracts are for outside administrative/management support, in relation to all of the contracts for other purposes. The federal salaries of government employees are not part of these calculations.

5. Which federal contractor won 94.7% of its contracts in full and open competition?

You're going to laugh when you read this, but it's ... Halliburton. Halliburton is sixth on the list of government contractors, with $6 billion in FY 2005 contracts, one-quarter of what Lockheed Martin received. Almost all of that came from Army contracts, and almost all of it ($5.4B) went to logistics support. They got 94.7% of their contracts in full and open competition in multibid scenarios, and another 4.7% of them from full and open competition where only the winning bid got submitted. Only 0.6% of their contracts came from any kind of restricted bid process, far away from the overall trend in federal contracting.

Did we all pass? And do CQ readers have any questions they would like to see on the next quiz? If so, you know where to do your research.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 14, 2006 9:56 AM

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Ed Morrisey, of Captain's Quarters, was given early access to the website, an interactive database of federal grants and contracts. A few weeks ag... [Read More]

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