US Federal Government’s 2017 Language Services Spend Just Surpassed 2016 Total

As of mid-November 2017, the US Federal Government has already awarded more funds to translation and interpretation contracts than it did for the whole of 2016. According to USAspending.gov’s records, year-to-date 2017 (as of November 22, 2017), the Federal Government has obligated USD 517.2m to translation and interpretation work, whereas spending for the entire year of 2016 was USD 497.7m.

Slator reviewed the database based on the NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) Code 541930, which represents Translation and Interpretation Services and is defined as defines as follows: “This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in translating written material and interpreting speech from one language to another and establishments primarily engaged in providing sign language services.”

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Over USD 390m for 20 Companies

Over 77% of the total USD 517m was won by just 20 companies out of over 1,100 competitors. The largest individual contracts in 2017 include a USD 21m contract for the Department of Justice won by SOS International, previously covered by Slator, a USD 16.5m contract for the Department of Defense awarded to ABM Government Services, and another USD 14.9m Department of Defense contract secured by Worldwide Language Resources.

As for the companies that won the lion’s share of US government translation and interpretation spend, meet the top 20 below:

VendorTotal Awarded YTD 2017 (in USD million)
 Mission Essential Personnel 60m
 Metropolitan Interpreters & Translators 50.6m
 ABM Government Services 49.2m
 Global Linguist Solutions 34.6m
 CWU 33.7m
 MVM Incorporated 23.2m
 Worldwide Language Resources 21.9m
 SOS International 21.6m
 Conduit Language Specialists 14.6m
 Advanced Language Systems International Inc 13.7m
 Mid Atlantic Professionals 13.4m
 Leidos 12m
 Legal Interpreting Services 9m
 Lionbridge 8.8m
 LanguageLine 7.1m
 Techtrans International 6.4m
 Kapsuun Group 6.2m
 Chenega Logistics 5.8m
 Access Interpreting 5.6m
 Globo Language Solutions 5.4m

Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security Top the Buyer List

The Department of Defense is the biggest spender with USD 236.5m in awarded contracts so far, followed by the Department of Justice with USD 125.5m and Department of Homeland Security with USD 54m.

Out of all the departments and agencies reporting into the database, the top ten account for over 96% of the overall translation and interpretation spend:

Department / Agency

Total Spend YTD 2017 (in USD million)
 Department of Defense 236.5m
 Department of Justice 125.5m
 Department of Homeland Security 54m
 Department of State 42.3m
 Department of Health and Human Services 13.8m
 Social Security Administration 8.3m
 National Aeronautics and Space Administration 7.6m
 Department of the Treasury 4m
 General Services Administration 3.4m
 Department of Commerce 2.8m

 

While the US database receives reports from US departments and agencies, it does not offer a full accounting of all government language service spend.

There are cases where details of a contract are withheld for weeks or months as is the case for contracts under the Department of Defense, to maximize security and avoid undermining sensitive operations, according to their FAQ.

Editor’s Note on the Data

Slator used DUNS numbers as our reference in this ranking to make sure we cover textual differences in company names and instances of subsidiaries belonging to the same parent company.

For instance, in the first table above, the total funds awarded to ABM Government Services accounts for contracts won by both ABM and Linc. Linc Services (Linc Government Services LLC) is an ABM Franchising Group brand (ABM Government Services LLC). Both companies listed in the US database are confirmed to be under one organization through their DUNS numbers.

Moreover, the database also considers modifications to existing contracts as individual “transactions,” and these count against the total funds obligated for 2017. This includes negative adjustments counted against contracts awarded at an earlier date due to the awarding agency exercising an option, the contract being completed early, or other reasons.

For instance, the spending portal records one transaction with Mission Essential Personnel for a negative amount of USD 21m. This sum is deducted from an ongoing contract the company won in 2012, for which the total award amount is USD 178m. It is important to note that these adjustments reflect on the total funds counted for 2017.

Gino Diño

Content strategy expert and Online Editor for Slator; father, husband, gamer, writer―not necessarily in that order.