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Companies That Profit Most From The Government



By Ben Taylor
Source: GRAPHIQ and Find The Company

Every company has a customer base critical for success. Walmart needs bargain shoppers. Chevron relies on motorists. AT&T banks billions from smartphone owners.

Lockheed Martin, The Boeing Company and Raytheon all rely on Uncle Sam.

As the 2016 political candidates propose budgets and clink glasses at fundraisers across America, the following 25 companies will be paying particularly close attention. Each corporation has made more than $25 billion in government contracts since the turn of the millennium — and each could stand to make or lose billions based on which candidates get elected.

At FindTheCompany, we charted the 25 companies with the greatest obligation amounts from Washington since 2000, using data from USAspending.gov. By “obligation amounts,” we mean money the government paid or promised to pay the organization.

Lockheed Martin is the undisputed leader in government obligations. The company builds weapon systems and fighter jets for the U.S. military, including the classic F-16 and newer F-35. According to Winslow Wheeler of the Straus Military Reform Project, F-35 jets can range from $148 million to $377 million — an average of $178 million per aircraft.

The Boeing Company ranks second. Another aircraft manufacturer responsible for various Air Force and naval fighter jets, Boeing also designs a line of unmanned surveillance drones. Most famously, Boeing builds Air Force One, the president’s personal, 4,000-square-foot aircraft. The U.S. Air Force has reportedly set aside $1.65 billion over the next four years to replace the two-plane Air Force One fleet, most of which will go straight to Boeing.

Third-place General Dynamics builds tanks, ships and submarines, while fourth-place Raytheon is most famous for its guided missile systems. By now, the overall trend is obvious: defense manufacturers that make big, expensive technology tend to win the biggest contracts from the U.S. government.

That said, jets, missiles and battleships aren’t the only products that unlock Uncle Sam’s coffers. Hewlett-Packard — the company most consumers associate with at-home printers, student laptops and old work computers — has made over $30 billion from the government since 2000. The technology company supplies rugged laptops for troops, and perhaps more importantly, powers a secure intranet for the Navy and Marine Corps. Hewlett-Packard’s network allows members of the U.S. military to communicate quickly and securely.

Like Hewlett-Packard, General Electric earns most of its government obligations from technology that plays accessory to tanks, jets and ships. From on-the-battlefield communication devices to a "360º Situational Awareness System” on armored vehicles, General Electric offers an extremely diverse set of technological services for America’s military. In fact, the corporation has signed over 30,000 separate contracts with the government since 2000, each for a separate project or piece of technology.

While General Electric’s 30,633 contracts stand apart from the pack, they’ve only cost the government a combined $37.9 billion over 15 years. Compare those figures to Boeing’s, where a fraction of the contracts (9,948) have run up a bill for Uncle Sam that’s more than seven times as much ($267 billion). Unsurprisingly, it’s easier to install advanced imaging technology on 50 jets than it is to build the jets themselves.

Among all the things at stake in the 2016 election, add one more to the list: business for 25 of America’s biggest manufacturers. Judging from the last 15 years, several trillion dollars hang in the balance.


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