Federal Contracts

Source General Services Administration
File Size
Dates Covered
Categories: ,


NICAR does not currently sell federal contracts data, but you can access the data in several different ways:

1.) Search USASpending.gov

2.) Search https://www.fpds.gov/fpdsng_cms/index.php/en/

3.) Download the data by year here: https://www.fpds.gov/fpdsng_cms/index.php/en/archives-9.html

The Federal Procurement Data System, maintained by the U.S. General Services Administration through a private contractor, includes transaction-by-transaction records related to federal contracts. The database was substantially changed from FY2003. In the past, only transactions of more than $25,000 were included.

The database includes services being performed or items being produced in all U.S. states, as well as U.S. territories and some foreign countries. The list of services or products being contracted is long, and includes: telecommunications, maintenance, office furniture, food products, nursing home care contracts, consulting services, military equipment, computer equipment and software, janitorial services, removal and cleanup of hazardous materials, hotel/motel lodging, construction of troop housing, textile fabrics and fuel products.

Approximately 70 Executive Branch agencies report their procurement contract obligations to the FPDS. The largest exception is the U.S. Postal Service. The Legislative and Judicial branches do not report to the FPDS.

The data also lists the contractor performing the service or providing the product, as well as their address and the location where the work is being performed. It’s also possible to analyze contracts awarded to small and disadvantaged businesses, veteran or women-owned small businesses, non-profit organizations or foreign companies. The database notes where the contract was subject to various preference programs, such as those under the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) program or the Indian/Self-Determination Act. Information from the HUBZone Empowerment Contracting Program is also included.

Related Tipsheets

  • Following the dollar in public spending – Vendors, Grants and Contracts
    This tipsheet provides detailed information about how beat reporters can follow the money in contracts, purchases and grants.
  • Examining military contracts
    “This tip sheet looks at some ways to tackle the massive military contracts database, and some pitfalls to avoid along the way.”
  • Military Data: Contracts Casualties
    This tipsheet is a good guide to investigating the military. Fabey discusses how to take advantage of the military’s love of records and find the good investigative stories buried in the databases. He discusses which data analysis programs to use, as well as how to spot the discrepancies that could lead to a story. One very helpful think Fabey does is explain why some things, like sudden increases in the cost of ships, may seems indicative of a good story but are really quite routine for the military.

Related Stories

  • Outsourcing the Pentagon
    This study examined $900 billion in defense contracts in the six fiscal years between 1998 and 2003. After assembling Pentagon databases into a single table of 2.2 million records, the study identified and profiled defense department contractors who received at least $100 million between fiscal years 1998 and 2003. Among other findings, no-bid contracts accounted for 40 percent of the Pentagon’s business in that time period.
  • How Ortiz influenced a Navy contract
    This is a collection of six stories on House Armed Services Committee third-ranking Democrat, Rep. Solomon Ortiz, and his influence on and personal gain from defense federal contracts in his district.
  • 9/11 Money Trough
    The series examined what happened to the $21.4 billion that President Bush promised to help New York City recover in the aftermath of Sept. 11. The results are disheartening, finding widespread waste, fraud and mismanagement.
  • Little Goes a Long Way
    “Some big companies show up in government small-business databases, inflating the apparent contract totals.” Larry Margasak of the Associated Press discovered that some of America’s largest companies — including Verizon Communications, AT&T Wireless, Barnes & Noble and Dole Food — were mistakenly designated “small business” in the government’s contractor database. This means “the government has overstated the contract dollars going to small business at a time when the administration of President George W. Bush has been pressing to give smaller firms as much federal work as possible.” Moreover, the problem might not be easy to fix, as “once a company’s status is mischaracterized, it stays that way through the life of a contract, which can be 20 years.” Therefore, “smaller firms the administration intended to help might be frozen out from fresh business by bigger companies.”