White House Officials: Contract Spending Decreased Last Year

OMB Deputy Director Jeffrey Zients, Photo: omb.gov

For the first time in 13 years, the amount of money the federal government spends on contracts declined, Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director Jeffrey Zients said in a phone press conference this week.

For fiscal year 2010, the government spent $535 billion on contracted goods and services, down from $550 billion in fiscal year 2009, Zients said.

“We have reversed the trend of uncontrollable growth. We’re saving money and making sure every taxpayer dollar is being well-spent,” he told reporters.

The decline in contract spending follows a pledge made by President Barack Obama to realize a 7 percent reduction in baseline contracting spending, according to a Government Executive report. All told, that would save the government about $40 billion.

And, Zients said the administration was making good on that promise.

Office of Federal Procurement Policy Administrator Dan Gordon said federal agencies were able to meet that goal by making smarter decisions when purchasing and, often, buying less from the private sector, according to Federal News Radio.

Gordon added that a continuing goal for agencies will be to cut back on professional and technical services and IT contract spending. In fact, he added, that requirement — cutting spending on such contracts by 10 percent — will be spelled out in the president’s budget for fiscal year 2012.

Gordon said the progress, so far, is easy to track. “[It’s] progress that you can measure in dollars,” he said, according to Gov Exec.

But, not everyone was touting the progress just yet. Stan Soloway, president and CEO of the industry trade group the Professional Services Council, said OMB’s proposals to further cut contract spending without first determining agencies’ mission needs risks “put[ting] the horse before the cart.”

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