According to Fox News, the federal government spends $19 million per year on a contract with the database firm Dun and Bradstreet to track federal contractors. About ten years ago, it cost $1 million per year. Behold yet another example of the ever-expanding, bloated federal bureaucracy.
What’s the point of this system? The government handles more than $1 trillion a year in contracts and grants. Washington needs to assign a unique number to each one of them, to track all the businesses and other entities it deals with. For more than three decades, it has turned to one company — Dun & Bradstreet — for its numbering needs.
But over the years, various government dictates have expanded the use of that system, and it’s grown to include other information like business names, addresses and ownership details.
As a result, costs have skyrocketed. So the government, after years of watching those costs rise, is finally starting to consider an alternative — amid concern that Dun & Bradstreet’s domination of the numbering market has driven up costs.
“GSA believes that Dun & Bradstreet effectively has a monopoly for government unique identifiers that has contributed to higher costs,” GAO wrote in its letter to Nelson. GSA, or the General Services Administration, manages the contract.
The rising price-tag of the mundane system is emblematic of the struggle Washington has faced to control costs across its bureaucracy at a time of gaping deficits.
Update: Speaking of government waste, check out what’s in the Farm Bill.