September accounts for just one-twelfth of the year but one-sixth of government agencies’ contract spending, according to a new study from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

Why September? It’s the last month of the government’s fiscal year, and agencies are afraid that their budgets will be cut if they don’t use it all.

That “use it or lose it” attitude leads to a lot of government waste.

“Existing literature on year-end spending suggests that federal contract expenditures in the last week of the fiscal year tend to be wasteful, funding projects that are of substantially lower quality, as well as more risky non-competitive and one-bid contracts,” said the study, authored by Jason Fichtner and Adam Michel.

The pair cite a few particularly egregious examples of wasteful September spending.

In 2013, the Department of State spent $5 million on high-end, handcrafted stem and barware to use in American embassies. The department also spent $1 million on granite artwork.

That same month, the Department of Veterans Affairs spent $562,000 of taxpayer money on artwork. The Coast Guard spent $178,000 on “cubicle furniture rehab.”

To curb the end-of-year spending splurge, Fichtner and Michel recommend letting agencies have a limited amount of their funds rolled over to the next year.

“To maximize success in reducing waste, rollover accounts should be segregated by agency subcomponent,” they write. “Departments or agencies that wish to participate should be given the authority to roll over up to 5 percent of their contract budget authority into the next fiscal year.”

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