Every once in a while, I dig into the federal budget to see how the government is spending our tax dollars.
Federal agencies reported spending $118,720,386,231 from Oct. 1, 2018, through July 8, 2019. We spent a lot for fruits and vegetables – $234,694,749.05 – but even more for bombs. The generic bombs listing in the budget totaled $320,296,009.86. Weapons costs were much higher once you add other categories of bombs, like precision-guided small diameter bombs, which drew $147,147,412 in funding.
The Department of Defense reported spending $68,890,257,358.55, more than the next 10 federal agencies combined. Spending included $155,799,464.70 for a space-based infrared weapons system.
The government also spent $646,951,279.36 toward the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle.
Other budget items include a $3,536,013.45 contract to a security firm that transports bulk quantities of seized marijuana in Texas and Arizona, and $365,275,784.31 for debt collection.
We also spent $953,574,154 for children’s vaccines. The anti-vaccine movement won’t like that.
I posted an itemized list of contracts and purchases here. Have a little patience – the page takes a minute to load. That’s because the list has 885,976 rows. It’s interactive and so you can see the spending amount and then drill down to see more details, including the agency, the contractor and other details.
The 10 countries where the government spent most money, after the United States, were:
- Kuwait, $867,541,960.93
- Iraq, $725,513,679.27
- Afghanistan, $590,213,044.49
- Germany, $303,424,283.44
- Japan, $289,457,558.61
- South Korea, $284,107,470.69
- United Arab Emirates, $244,554,928.47
- The Bahamas, $237,884,705.65 ($223,885,950 will go toward a new embassy compound)
- Canada, $183,394,978.49
- Bahrain, $144,513,911.72
Cuba ranked 46th, with $19,456,594, and almost all that money went to the Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay.
Federal agencies spent $2,978,297,861.64 without revealing the location of the spending.
Outrageous government spending occasionally draws attention. See this Los Angeles Times piece about $435 hammers, $7,622 coffee makers, $74,165 aluminum ladders – all charged to taxpayers. And the Air Force once paid $10,000 for a toilet seat cover.
I am sure such abuses still endure, but they’re buried in the pages and pages of spending records.
As a journalist, I like going through records because it’s a great way to find story ideas.
I am also astounded at the amount the government spends at a time of record budget deficits.
The leading spending categories in the records I reviewed were:
- Operation of miscellaneous buildings: $6,009,666,484.71
- Support for professional engineers and technicians: $5,294,857,566.15
- Fixed wing aircraft: $5,197,653,262.03
- Combat ships and landing vessels: $5,080,744,832.00
- Drugs and biologicals: $4,495,400,800.17
The budget includes 2,119 spending categories. A few that caught my eye include:
- Guided missile systems: $462,466,862.96
- Housekeeping and janitorial service: $412,859,005.35
- Construction of highways, roads, streets, bridges and railways: $377,959,087.32
- Electronic countermeasures, quick reaction capability equipment: $336,395,103.09
- Fuses and primers, $192,328,967.49
- Construction of ammunition storage buildings, $145,955,613.02
- Special studies/analysis-defense, $77,382,303.31
- Winches, hoists, cranes and derricks, $75,587,610.11
- Intelligence support, $67,750,623.19
- Bakery and cereal products, $66,854,768.43
- Nonalcoholic beverages, $28,160,003.39
- Construction of penal facilities, $45,530,115.31
- Memorials, mortuary equipment and supplies, $32,339,217.05
- Psychiatry, $19,982,553.31
- Nuts and washers, $14,481,328.76
- Pyrotechnics, $12,901,978.42
- Screws, $8,569,009.83
- Household furnishings, $7,331,866.12
- Flags and pennants, $4,222,287.13
The top 10 spenders were:
- Department of Defense, $68,890,257,358.55
- Department of Energy, $10,856,753,239.92
- Department of Veterans Affairs, $6,684,897,342.98
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration, $5,381,480,074.59
- Department of Health and Human Services, $5,084,471,008.48
- Department of Homeland Security, $4,432,119,017.51
- General Services Administration, $3,586,510,179.83
- Department of Justice, $2,040,236,059.33
- Department of Transportation, $1,613,612,946.54
- Department of State, $1,512,213,753.58
These were the top three individual contracts:
- Sandia National Laboratories, which handles defense and national security matters, $2,695,519,495
- Pantex Plant, a nuclear weapons facility, $2,577,513,642
- Tricare, a healthcare program for veterans, $2,210,571,272.
The organization receiving the most money was Lockheed Martin Corp., with $6,169,345,707.77, followed by the Boeing Co. with $4,952,550,903.23.