May 29, 2022

UPDATED Report Provides In-Depth Look at U.S. Federal Government Spending on Information Products and Services

An updated version (December 2014) of a U.S. federal government report that shares a lot of interesting data (including many charts) about government spending on information services and products (not just by libraries) is now online and embedded below. The report also includes forecasts of spending through FY 2017. We shared a link to a previous version of the report (April 2014) version report on infoDOCKET last May.

Title: Federal Government Strategic Sourcing Of Information Products And Services: A Report Prepared by the Federal Research Division, Library of Congress Under an Agreement with the Federal Library and Information Network (FEDLINK), Library of Congress (December 2014)

From the Preface

This report describes the current landscape of the federal marketplace regarding the acquisition of information goods and services, including electronic databases, books, and serials. It compiles comprehensive data from fiscal year (FY) 1979 through the fourth quarter (Q4) of FY 2014 on the amount federal agencies have spent on these products and services, as well as identifying major vendors. In addition, the report forecasts through FY 2017 the potential savings to the federal government if agencies purchase these products and services through a strategic-sourcing initiative. The report presents this data in the form of tables, graphs, and charts, accompanied by narrative explanation and analysis.

The current report includes some new analyses of the federal information market. Whereas previous iterations of this report focused on the dollar values of transactions, the new analyses cover another measure of market activity for information commodities: the number of transactions for information products and services.

Some Key Findings

  • In the most recent complete fiscal year—FY 2014—federal spending on information commodities was $548.7 million, one of the highest annual totals in the 36-year period from FY 1979 through FY 2014.
  • From FY 1979 through FY 2014, six of the 15 information products and services accounted for 93 percent of federal spending on information commodities: books and pamphlets (22.3 percent of total spending); Web-based subscriptions (20.5 percent); administrative support for federal libraries (15.7 percent) and for information retrieval (11.6 percent); newspapers and periodicals (11.9 percent); and maps, atlases, charts, and globes (11.3 percent).

Source: Federal Government Strategic Sourcing Of Information Products And Services (December 2014)

  • Within the last five fiscal years—from FY 2010 through FY 2014—26 vendors received 50 percent of all federal spending on information products and services, and five of those vendors received nearly 25 percent of all such spending: Reed Elsevier ($233.6 million; 8.3 percent of all federal spending on information products and services); West Publishing Corporation ($221.8 million; 7.9 percent); Primus Solutions ($138.0 million; 4.9 percent); EBSCO ($83.9 million; 3.0 percent); and Swets and Zeitlinger ($68.5 million, 2.4 percent).
  • Federal spending on information commodities is forecast to be $645.9 million in FY 2015 and $674.5 million by FY 2017. Moreover, there is a 95-percent probability that spending for FY 2015 will be between $325.8 million and $966.1 million, and the same probability that FY 2017 spending will be between $343.4 million and $1.0 billion.
  • The federal government could have saved approximately $600 million to $2.4 billion—5 percent and 20 percent savings, respectively—if it had already had in place a strategic- sourcing initiative for information commodities during the period from FY 1979 through FY 2014. At the 20-percent discount, the federal government’s savings of $2.4 billion over 36 years would have exceeded the amount it actually spent on information products and services over the last four completed fiscal years ($2.3 billion spent during the period from FY 2011 through FY 2014).

Full Text Report

Federal Government Strategic Sourcing Of Information Products And Services A Report Prepared By The Federal…

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.