Agencies Have Spent More Than $300M In Response to the COVID-19 Outbreak

Alla Greeg/

Federal buyers spent more than $4.8 million on hand sanitizer alone in the last two months.

Federal agencies have spent upward of $300 million over the last two months in response to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Between February 1 and March 22, agencies reported spending more than $297.8 million on telework products and services—such as virtual meeting rooms, collaboration tools and virtual private networks—and health products like hand sanitizer and ventilators, according to data maintained in the Federal Procurement Data System.

An analysis by The Pulse of GovCon, a federal contracting market intelligence firm, looked at all federal spending data tagged with the National Interest Action code “COVID-19-2020” and variations, such as “covid-19,” “covid19,” and “coronavirus.” The analysis shows agencies spent $6.5 million on ventilators, nearly $4.8 million on hand sanitizer, $3.7 million on gloves and $3.2 million on disinfectants. The balance was spent on personnel support services and IT products and support for teleworking.

But Pulse analysts stressed that the data is likely incomplete at this time.

“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,” they said in a summary report. “Others have not had time to enter data due to the tempo of operations.”

Analysts also noted these figures do not include Defense Department spending, as that data is kept on a 90-day delay for the sake of national security.

Of civilian agencies, the Health and Human Services Department takes the lead with the most spending on pandemic-related spending with $168 million allocated in the last two months—more than the next 15 agencies combined.

The Veterans Affairs Department is second with almost $53 million in spending, followed by NASA with $45 million and the State Department with $8.6 million.

The full list also includes five other departments that spent over $1 million: Homeland Security Department, the Social Security Administration, Justice Department, Treasury Department and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Those dollars are spread across more than 50 acquisition vehicles, with the Federally-Funded Research and Development Center, or FFRDC, contract at the top with $30.8 million flowing through it. That’s followed by NASA’s SEWP V governmentwide acquisition contract with $28 million and VA’s Medical Equipment and Supplies contract with just shy of $14 million.

Agency buyers are also making significant use of VA’s Veterans Health Administration’s Clinical Enterprise Videoconferencing Network, or CEVN, Equipment and Supplies blanket purchase agreement; HHS’s Emergency Response Support Services, or ERSS, contract; and SSA’s VoIP Telephone System Replacement Project.

Agencies have spent the most money with Janssen Pharmaceuticals, which produces hand sanitizer and disinfectants, among other products. From February 1 to March 22, federal agencies spent more than $148 million with the company.

Behind Janssen is the California Institute of Technology, which received $30.8 million in federal contracts; Veterans Tech LLC, which was awarded $26 million in contracts; and Southwest Research Institute with $14.3 million in contracts.

As of March 22, 20 vendors had acquired contracts and task orders worth more than $1 million.