The Government Accountability Office has found that the federal government allocated over $30 billion for telecommunications services and $4 billion for call center operations during fiscal years 2014 through 2018.
GAO said in its report that 84 percent of annual governmentwide spending for telecom operations were allocated for internet and satellite services offered by over 1,500 vendors. More than half of that amount represented small businesses, the report noted.
According to the watchdog, the Department of Defense accounted for over two-thirds of contract obligations while NASA and the departments of Transportation and Veterans Affairs had the highest obligations for civilian agencies.
With regards to call center operations, GAO found that agencies spent $800 million annually for help desk, administrative support and professional assistance.
The Department of Health and Human Services accounted for majority of call center spending intended to help the department address health inquiries such as Medicare benefits.
GAO noted that four out of the five call center contracts it reviewed “expressly stated that some or all work” must be performed by U.S. citizens or within the continental U.S. All five also included requirements to “ limit access to data systems and data maintained”.