Senators look to wean agencies off year-end spending sprees

By Orhan Cam Royalty-free stock photo ID: 546416560 United States Capitol Building in Washington DC USA 

A bipartisan group of leaders on the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee warned the financial heads of the largest federal agencies not to go on a spending spree as the final days of the fiscal year approach.

Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Rand Paul (R-Ken.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) sent letters to the chief financial officers of 13 federal agencies outlining their concerns of "potentially wasteful spending in the final weeks" of fiscal 2018.

Traditionally, as the fiscal year ends, federal agencies try to spend the money remaining in their budgets, because they stand to not get that money budgeted again if it is left over.

The letter quoted a study of spending in the final weeks of 2017 that showed federal agencies plunked down $11 billion in the final week of that year -- almost five times more than the average weekly spending for that year.

Johnson and McCaskill are chairman and ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Paul and Peters are the chairman and ranking member of the panel's Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management. 

The letter was sent to the CFOs at the Departments of Defense, Treasury, Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, Energy, Justice, State, Transportation, Health and Human Services as well as the  General Services Administration, NASA, National Science Foundation and Social Security Administration.

"According to a recent report, with only limited time left in the current fiscal year, eight of the top ten highest-spending federal agencies have not used as much as 40 percent of their budgets," said the letter.

The letter expressed concerns over reports that the end of fiscal 2018 could see an annual "spending binge could be the biggest yet." It also asked agencies to set staff-level briefings by Sept. 14 on the issue.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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