Federal Spending on COVID-19 Doubles in Last 10 Days

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The latest government spending data shows a major jump between April 13 and 23, up to $6.4 billion.

After appearing to level off mid-April, federal spending in response to the coronavirus outbreak surged in the latter half of the month, more than doubling to over $6.4 billion.

From February 1 to April 23, federal agencies tagged more than $6.4 billion as being part of the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, using the National Interest Action code “COVID-19-2020” or a similar tag, according to data pulled by The Pulse of GovCon, a market intelligence firm.

Prior breakdowns showed the government had spent some $300 million by March 22, $2.6 billion by April 2 and $2.9 billion by April 13.

While crisis-related research and development were the top spending area as of the last breakdown, the latest data shows a surge in spending on medical and surgical instruments, equipment and supplies, toward which agencies obligated more than $2.3 billion as of April 23.

Drugs and biologicals represented the next largest spending area at nearly $1.3 billion. Basic biomedical research and development was the third largest area at $453 million. Financial management support—$359 million—and IT and telecom software maintenance service plans—$300 million—round out the top five.

All IT spending categories—such as equipment, system configuration, data entry, telecom services and more—added together total close to $551 million.

The Health and Human Services Department continues to be the top spender by far, doling out nearly $4.4 billion as of April 23.

Once again, the Veterans Affairs Department was the second leading spender, with $856 million obligated. In previous breakdowns, the Homeland Security Department was the third largest spender, though the agency has dropped to fifth with $264 million.

The Small Business Administration took over the third position with $406 million in spending. The Defense Department rounded out the top five in fourth place with $321 million spent on COVID-19 response.

As in the past, The Pulse included the caveat that these numbers represent a bottom, with millions—or perhaps billions—more likely in actual spending than has been properly reported to date.

“Many contracting offices supporting COVID-19, particularly those relocated to the disaster recovery area, do not have access to their normal contract writing systems and thus have not been able to populate FPDS-NG contemporaneously with the contract awards they have made,” the analysts said. “Others have not had time to enter data due to the tempo of operations. It is impossible to estimate the impact this may have on the total numbers.”

Actual obligations over this period will likely increase significantly once a full accounting has been finished.

“As the operations tempo slows we expect that the data will be entered and thus the accuracy in terms of total contracts awarded, and dollars obligated, will increase," they said.

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