Government Agencies that Spend the Most
by Alex Greer
Here's a look at the 10 federal government agencies that take the biggest bite out of the federal budget and receive the most money.
One of the most debated issues in the 2016 presidential election revolves around the growing budget deficit. The Congressional Budget Office reports the total federal deficit for 2016 will be $534 billion, an increase of nearly $100 billion from the previous year. That number is expected to double by 2023.
How to balance the budget remains a tricky question, and one that highlights the ideological differences between most Democrats and Republicans. Should taxes be raised? Government spending cut?
Regardless of the approach, it's important to first know how the U.S. spends its money. That's why the team at Graphiq politics site InsideGov decided to take a closer look at the federal budget. Using data from the Office of Management and Budget, we ranked the federal government agencies that were allocated the most money in the 2016 fiscal year. The 2016 figures are estimates, according to the office's data.
The Office of Management and Budget provides government outlay data from 1962 to 2021. If an agency was established after 1962, the office lists spending attributable to predecessor agencies. Note that all figures are inflation adjusted to the 2009 value of the dollar, the year the Office of Management and Budget uses as its framework.
Remarkably, approximately half of all government outlays go to just two agencies: the Social Security Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services.
#10. Other Defense Civil Programs
Total Outlay (2016): $57,039,591,544
Some of the most notable civil programs in this category include the military retirement fund and the retiree healthcare fund. A comprehensive breakdown of the various civil programs can be found here.
#9. Department of Transportation
Total Outlay (2016): $69,716,947,330
Government outlays to the Department of Transportation are expected to rise dramatically over the next few years as the U.S. invests more in repairing its highway infrastructure and building new transit systems.
#8. Department of Education
Total Outlay (2016): $70,850,949,480
The Department of Education has stirred controversy during the 2016 presidential election, with candidates debating the role of the federal government in primary and secondary education.
#7. Office of Personnel Management
Total Outlay (2016): $84,094,410,605
Excluding non-civilian military personnel, the U.S. federal government employs over 2.7 million people. The Office of Personnel Management is responsible for recruiting and retaining that workforce. For reference, Wal-Mart, the country's largest private employer, has 2.2 million employees worldwide.
#6. Department of Agriculture
Total Outlay (2016): $137,740,057,327
The Department of Agriculture leads initiatives on food, agriculture, land management and rural development. In 2008, the USDA's budget jumped by over $2 billion, which may be partially attributed to the 2007-2008 world food crisis.
#5. Department of Veterans Affairs
Total Outlay (2016): $159,093,514,869
Since 2001, spending on the Department of Veterans Affairs has grown rapidly. Part of this is due to an aging veteran population, which has increased the department's spending on medical care.
#4. Department of the Treasury
Total Outlay (2016): $484,034,396,273
The Treasury Department's spending spiked during the Great Recession and is expected to reach new highs by 2021. The department recently made headlines with its proposed changes to the $20, $10 and $5 bills.
#3. Department of Defense - Military Programs
Total Outlay (2016): $516,237,907,560
Spending on military programs tends to be cyclical, rising during major wars or military engagements and falling during times of relative stability. In 2013, sequestration cut into the budget for the Defense Department. According to projections by the Office of Management and Budget, defense spending will continue to decline in the near future.
#2. Social Security Administration
Total Outlay (2016): $888,174,489,430
As the "Baby Boomer" generation ages, spending on Social Security has ballooned. The debate over how to manage these rising costs remains politically divisive.
#1. Department of Health and Human Services
Total Outlay (2016): $994,650,662,844
The Department of Health and Human Services accounts for over a quarter of all federal government spending, nearly twice as much as the Department of Defense. With an increasingly elderly population, spending on health programs such as Medicare and Medicaid is expected to grow, posing a major challenge to the country's budget.
More AMERICAN POLITICS ...
- Clinton Regains Lead
- How Much Candidates Spent Per Vote
- Tim Kaine Cheat Sheet
- Mike Pence by the Numbers
- Americans Divided on Bathroom Bill
- Clinton's Stubborn 75 Percent Chance Finally Dips Following Email Revelations
- The 2016 Democratic Convention by the Numbers
- The 2016 Republican Convention by the Numbers
- Trump's Fundraising Turnaround: June Marked Best Month So Far
- Trump Captures His Largest Lead So Far in Polls
- Trump Pulls Ahead of Clinton in Key Swing States
- Donald Trump and America B
- House Sit-In Would've Been More Powerful if It Rejected 'No Fly, No Buy'
- Clinton's Foreign Policy Poses a Challenge to the Left
- Hillary Wants to Bring Back Bill. She Shouldn't
- The Real Reason Republicans Are Going after the IRS
- ISIS Must Love Trump
- Can Trump Ride the Anti-Immigration Wave to the White House?
- Trouble for Donald Trump's Campaign
- America's Most Followed Members of Congress
- Hillary Clinton's Major Foreign Policy Address Was Anything But
- Donald Trump Down in the Polls After Rough Week on the Trail
- There's No More Denying It: Trump Is Openly Racist
- Donald Trump: Joker's Wild
- After Orlando: Twitter Recoils from Islamophobia, Takes Aim at Gun Laws
- How Much Blame Should Hillary Clinton Bear for Libya?
- Countries That Receive the Most Foreign Aid From the U.S.
- Hillary Clinton Secures Democratic Nomination
- Welcome to Half Dome, Sponsored by Nike
- Companies Need to Stop Bankrolling Hate
- For Billionaire Donors, Academic Integrity Comes Cheap
- America's Cosmic Tax Gap
- Trump's 'Realty Check' on Climate
- Putin and Trump: Symptoms of Creeping Caesarism
- Obama Promised Open Government, But Hasn't Delivered Yet
- A Coalition of the Unhinged
- Putting Free Speech Out to Pasture
- The Only Sane Conclusion from Orlando
- Orlando Shooting Fuels Debate on Gun Control
- They're Killing Us. Help Us Stop Them
- A Commencement Address for the Most Indebted Class Ever
- Our Poverty Myth
- Which States Have Banned Assault Weapons?
- Government Agencies that Spend the Most
- The Government Agencies that Employ the Most People
- Odd Ways Political Campaigns Spend Their Money
- Congressional Districts with the Youngest and Oldest Voters
- Trump Nabs First Lead Against Clinton in Poll
- Bernie's Bucks: Sanders' Fundraising and Spending Prowess in 5 Charts
- Clinton Holds Razor-Thin Lead
- Doling Out the Dough for Pro-Clinton Super PACs
- States with the Most Women in Politics
- Do First Ladies Influence the Popularity of Baby Names?
- Counties Where Medicare Spends the Most per Patient
- We Live in a Democracy, Not a Theocracy
- Is Trump an American Exceptionalist?
- Sanders vs Clinton on Economic Inequality
- Nine Lessons for Navigating National Security
- Trumped Up Alliances?
- Big Money in Politics Drives War
- Why Clinton Supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Trump Does Not
- The Trans-Pacific Partnership and the 2016 US Presidential Election
- Obama: The Conflict Resolution President?
- Bernie Sanders Still the 2016 Fundraising Champ
- Inequality Will Get Worse Until There's a Revolution
- Crime Can Pay if It's Big Enough
- Political Campaigns May Put Your Personal Data at Risk
- Fear, Anger and Attitudes Toward Immigration
- The New (Anti-)Secularism
- Clinton, Trump Poised for Northeastern Sweep on Tuesday
- Trump's Bad Ideas Aren't Un-American After All
- The Death Gap
- Why Trump Is No Longer a Safe Bet
- 22 People, $43 Million: The People Doling Out the Dough for Pro-Clinton Super PACs
- It's Literally Impossible to Deport 11 Million Immigrants
- Here's What a Budget That Prioritizes Peace Looks Like
- Does the Military Support Trump?
- Where Are the Wealthiest Voters?
- How the Pentagon Wastes Your Money
- This Election, We Can't Afford to Ignore the Climate
- The Children's Crusade
- When Islam Polices Extremists
- Hillary Clinton's State Department Armed Saudi Arabia to the Teeth
- Free From Jail, Imprisoned by Debt
- American Cities Most at Risk of Zika Virus
- Operation Paul Ryan
- What Trumpism Means for Democracy
- Trump Opens Floodgates of Hate
- Missing in Action: Political Reality and Leadership
- Give 'Tax and Spend' a Chance
- Donald Trump: Foreign Policy's Useful Idiot?
- When Red Tape Is a Good Thing
- Trump Holds Strong Lead in New York, Clinton-Sanders Race Tightens
- These States Give the Most Money to the Presidential Race
- The Most Influential Presidential Power Couples
- The Most Influential First Ladies
- Wall Street Should Pay a Sales Tax, Too
- Cruz, Not Trump, Has Shot to Beat Clinton
- Republicans Who Really Don't Like Donald Trump
- What Would Nancy Reagan Say?
- The Humpty Dumpty Party
- What Are Trump's Values -- and America's?
- Primary Trends: Media Goes Crazy, Bettors Yawn
- Most Liberal Members of Congress
- Most Conservative Members of Congress
- 25 Facts About Abraham Lincoln
- 25 Facts About John F. Kennedy
Politics: "Government Agencies that Spend the Most"