Pentagon Awards Surge 71 Percent in March as Congress Eases Budget Blow

April 7, 2013

The Defense Department announced contracts valued at as much as $39.4 billion in March, 71 percent more than the prior month, even as automatic federal budget cuts started taking effect.

Awards included a $2.6 billion contract to Huntington Ingalls Industries for an upgrade of the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier. The Pentagon said the contract had been delayed until Congress passed a full-year defense budget on March 26.

The work awarded on March 29 to Huntington Ingalls, the only U.S. builder of aircraft carriers, includes refueling nuclear reactors and upgrading ship systems at its facility in Newport News, Va. More than 3,800 people will work on the project, and “any further delay in receiving the contract would have negatively impacted our workforce,” Christie Miller, a company spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

March’s award total continued an increase in defense contracts in 2013. The Pentagon announced $23.1 billion in awards in February and $12.1 billion in January. The $39.4 billion in contracts announced last month was 15 percent less than the $46.1 billion disclosed in March 2012.

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