That’s the value of contracts awarded by the Defense Department in August, that $17.6 billion representing a decline of almost 34 percent from the same month a year earlier.
The decline was blamed on sequestration, as the Pentagon faced the same automatic spending cuts as domestic agencies once the White House and Congress failed to agree on an alternative to reduce the federal deficit.
In August 2012, the Pentagon awarded $26.5 billion in contracts. The agency is required to announce awards of at least $6.5 million.
The August awards were just 2 percent higher than the $17.3 billion in contract awards announced during July, which itself represented a 55 percent drop from June.
“Sequestration is definitely putting a stranglehold on things,” said Mark Amtower, who runs a government contracting consulting firm in Clarksville, Maryland. “That wasn’t in place this time last year. That has to factor in somehow.”