Top Spending Federal Agencies

Health and Human Services and the Social Security Administration spend the most money each year.


The 111th Congress has passed some of the most sweeping legislation in recent memory. But legislators have yet to accomplish one basic annual task: passing a budget. If Congress does not pass appropriations bills for fiscal year 2011 before the session ends, the task will be a top priority for the 112th Congress come January. Whatever the final contents of the 2011 budget, a large amount of the spending will be in the form of awards--money that the government dispenses in a variety of forms, from agricultural subsidies to federal student aid. The top-spending offices--the Health and Human Services department and the Social Security Administration--spend most of their money on direct payments through Medicare and Medicaid, as well as Social Security Insurance, respectively. The Defense Department, the No. 3 government office, spends $314 billion per year, a vast majority of which goes to contractors.

Below are the government agencies and departments for fiscal year 2010, along with the types of awards that they predominately administer, according to The data includes award amounts for grants, contracts, insurance, loans, and direct payments.

Agency Total Dollars Most Prominent Type of Spending
Department of Health and Human Services $630,728,730,692 Direct Payments
Social Security Administration 555,716,495,966 Direct Payments
Department of Defense 313,527,249,932 Contracts
Department of Homeland Security 249,867,135,482 Insurance
Department of Education 89,419,093,779 Grants
Department of Energy 42,903,865,141 Contracts
Department of Agriculture 41,230,698,859 Direct Payments
Department of Transportation 41,032,079,314 Grants
Department of Housing and Urban Development 38,917,578,332 Grants
Department of Veterans Affairs 18,120,352,606 Contracts