President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence on July 19.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence on July 19. Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian

The Agencies Where Trump Can Most Easily Shift Contracting Priorities

The White House wants to overhaul federal operations. Contract data suggest it will be easier at some agencies than others.

More than $400 billion in government contracts are set to expire this year across the largest 19 federal agencies, according to a recent report by big data and analytics firm Govini. That’s creating significant opportunities at some agencies to reorient federal programs in support of the Trump administration’s priorities, said Matt Hummer, director of analytics at the Arlington, Va.-based firm.

The report, the 2017 Federal Scorecard, is Govini’s annual ranking of government contractors and offers a granular picture of the relationship between agencies and the companies they do business with. It was produced in partnership with Government Executive Media Group.

In addition to providing an overview of contracting activity at each agency, the analysis includes a “reprogramming index” that ranks agencies according to their potential to fund new priorities, based on the number and value of expiring contracts. The key takeaway is that at some agencies with the most politically-charged missions, the administration will be able to significantly redirect agency activities through federal contracts.

The analysis found:

  • Among large agencies, the Army and the Health and Human Services Department have the greatest potential to reprogram priorities. Other large agencies well situated for change are the State and Veterans Affairs departments and NASA.
  • Among smaller agencies, the Education, Commerce, Labor and Interior departments, along with the Environmental Protection Agency, have the most reprogramming potential.
  • Departments with the least amount of programming flexibility include Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, Treasury and Transportation.

“A lot of agency agreements with industry to deliver work are expiring,” Hummer said, which creates a significant opportunity to redirect funds. “All those agencies are in a good situation relative to previous years” in terms of their ability to change direction.

Given the complexity—and, in many cases rigidity—of federal contracting obligations, the administration’s ability to shift priorities will depend to a large extent on how it navigates the data.  

“The president’s ability to enact his agenda will be enabled by his unprecedented access to big data and analytics, including applications that were spearheaded, but ultimately unrealized, by the previous Obama and Bush administrations,” the report notes.