Where Your Money Goes

I love challenging myself, and today I have a doozy of a challenge ahead of me.  I have in past looked at government contracts, numbers wise, to see who has gotten how much and where we, as a nation, are spending our money.  It has been a while though, so I have decided to revisit this and see what, if anything has really changed.

Things actually have changed. 

Part of the problem with looking at these numbers is how insanely complex these contracts can be, both in who is doing what for who, and how many different contracts one company has with the government, and with how many different portions of the government. It is incredibly easy to get lost in these numbers, seeing how there are over 66,000 different contractors listed as being under contract to the Federal Government.   To ease things somewhat I will look at several entities, some corporate and some governmental, as examples. 

A few things immediately caught my eye. The first was the fact that  the fifth largest contractor to the Federal Government is… “The Government of the United States”  Contracting out to itself, to the tune of $1.426 billion dollars for FY 2010.  In 2009 The  government ranked 22nd overall.  It was surprising as hell to see a non defense contractor in the top 5.  That has never happened before.   Now looking at the agencies purchasing from contractors shows that this is not only legit, but good for America.  The biggest benefactors of these contracts is NASA, the Navy, the dept. of energy, and the dept. of veteran affairs. 

The second was the surprising drop in the amount of money spent on government contracts this FY going to the Raytheon Corporation.  Raytheon has been in the top 5 overall in money spent in contracts over the last decade, raking in over 95 billion dollars over the last decade.  Not so this year.  Raytheon has dropped to 12th place overall in government spending from 5th place last year, when they had over $15,000,000,000 in government contracts, the bulk of which went to the Army, Navy, and Air Force for guided missile systems, but a great many other things besides.  The amount spent this fiscal year has dropped, and the things that money is spent on has also changed.   This nation has spent over 1.3 billion dollars on night vision equipment in Fiscal 2008 and 2009.  Night vision Eq. for this fiscal year sits at… $4.9 million dollars. Engineering R & D spending has also significantly dropped.  Just over $40 million for this year, with roughly ½ the fiscal year gone, where as last year the total spent was over 1.2 billion dollars.

You can see just how vast  an amount of money the government spends.  So far this year, $72,440,942,170 in total on contracts for this fiscal year has been spent, and there are other places and ways the government spends money to keep things afloat.  

There are other places and ways the Gov’t spends.  In the form of assistance to states, and a few corporations. The amount given for federal assistance is much greater than we put into government contracts so far this year, to the tune of $229.7 billion dollars so far this year.

A few facts that you might be interested in.  Every single recipient of government funds in the top twenty on this list, totaling over 90 billion dollars, go towards health care and medicaid and medicare and the like.  The top two, The NYS dept. of health and the Texas HHS have received $23.955 billion dollars this year alone so far.  As a matter of fact, the first  listing of any type that isn’t connected to health care is for State fiscal stabilization funds, recovery funds going to the state of Pennsylvania.  Ranked 35th.

The next non health care funds on the list? an $850,000,000 loan guarantee to Wachovia Bank, and another loan guarantee, this one to Wells Fargo for $450,000,000, and $417,700,000 for Texas state highways. To put those numbers in perspective though, add all three of those recipients of federal assistance together, and you get a total of 7/10th of 1 percent of the total federal assistance given to states and corporations for this fiscal year.

It is awe inspiring to see how much money is spent on how many different things.  It is painful to see how much is spent, particularly on health care.  It brings to the fore just how important it is to reign in, not just health care costs, but spending in general, particularly military spending, which is on par with, if not greater than, health care spending, and has gone up explosively under the previous administration, and is only now beginning to drop. 

The loans I won’t get into.  I just don’t know enough about the subject to be able to speak to it with any authority.


I got all the information here from usaspending.gov  The site is fairly easy to surf.  Want to find information about contracts? Mouse over the word spending and click contracts when it pops up.  Now from there it can get dicey, unless you know exactly what you are looking for.

Want information on… to pick a subject at random… CHESSE!  You want to find out about CHEESE, so you type in CHEESE in the “search by name” field and…

You’ve got to be kidding me. 

I actually found cheese. 

$7.9 million to 3 companies in fiscal 2009, for dairy products.  Best bit here? The Obama administration cut funding here, fiscal 2008 saw nearly $44 million in federal cheese contracts.   SRSLY.  In other words, the Obama administration cut the cheese.  

I cannot believe I just typed that. 

But I did that to make a point, and a serious one.  You can find out just about anything that the government has done fiscally in just about any way, whether by state, congressional district, the agency contracting out, top contractors by year,  and advanced contractor searches.


Today’s nuggets, via wikiquote:  But as they all say if we sell our home what will we have for it, money, and what is the use of that money, money goes and after it is gone then where are we, beside we have all we want, what can we do with money except lose it, money to spend is not very welcome, if you have it and you try to spend it, well spending money is an anxiety, saving money is a comfort and a pleasure, economy is not a duty it is a comfort, avarice is an excitement, but spending money is nothing, money spent is money non-existent, money saved is money realised…   Gertrude Stein

Money never made any man rich. Contrariwise, there is not any man that hath gathered store of it together that is not become more covetous. Seneca

It is more easy to write on money than to obtain it; and those who gain it, jest much at those who only know how to write about it.   Voltaire

Minor edit 9:56 am 3/9/10


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