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07Jan

U.S. Federal Government Spends US$4.5 Billion on Outsourced Translation and Interpreting Services

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(BOSTON, MA) – January 7, 2010 – As the Obama administration turns its focus to counter-terrorism activities in places like Nigeria and Yemen, who will translate the intelligence-related intercepts, including audio recordings and transcripts from languages such as Igbo, Yoruba, and Yemeni Arabic? In addition to direct employees, the U.S. government depends on thousands of small businesses for critical translation and interpreting services related to defense and intelligence activities, resulting in lucrative business opportunities.

A new report from market research firm Common Sense Advisory providers a detailed review of federal government expenditures on language services from 1990 through 2009. “Language Services and the U.S. Federal Government” shows which agencies spend the most on linguistic support, both yearly and overall, and lists the top-ranked government suppliers.

The report finds that the federal government has spent US$4.5 billion on outsourced language services since 1990. “Thirty companies earned more than US$17 million each by providing language services to the federal government over the past two decades,” explained Nataly Kelly, senior analyst at Common Sense Advisory, who led the research initiative. “Fueled by both foreign policy initiatives and language policy actions for domestic multilingual populations, U.S. government spending on translation and interpreting services is at an all-time high.”

The 89-page report includes:

  • A comprehensive review of 54,358 contracts for translation and interpreting services, including 2,810 award actions of US$100,000 or more
  • Detailed breakdowns of the US$4.5 billion spent on language services over the past two decades
  • A list of the 20 federal agencies that make up more than 96 percent of federal translation and interpreting spending
  • A ranked listing of the top-spending federal agencies for each year from 1990-2009
  • A ranked listing of the top language service providers (LSPs) for each year from 1990-2009
  • A comparison of language services spending under both Democratic and Republican presidents
  • The top agencies that issue contracts to non-U.S.-based providers
  • Maps that show locations of government suppliers, both in the U.S. and throughout the world, for each year from 1990-2009

The report also shows correlations between political parties of U.S. presidents, budgetary priorities, and spending habits. “In spite of the economic downturn, 47 percent of the total expenditure over the past two decades – US$2.1 billion – was paid out to translation and interpreting companies in the past two years alone,” comments Kelly. “The increased spending on language services serves to highlight an important fact - effective communication across multiple languages is vital to the U.S. government both for its interactions with other nations and to serve the diverse base of constituents within its borders.”

"Language Services and the U.S. Federal Government" is the first comprehensive report on federal third-party translation and interpreting spending produced by Common Sense Advisory, and is available as part of a subscription to clients. For more information about this report and others, visit www.commonsenseadvisory.com.

About Common Sense Advisory

Common Sense Advisory, Inc. is an independent research and analysis firm specializing in the on- and offline operations driving business globalization, internationalization, translation, interpretation, and localization. Its research, consulting, and training help organizations improve the quality of global business. For more information about Common Sense Advisory's research, reports, and globalization and localization consulting services visit: http://www.commonsenseadvisory.com  or http://www.twitter.com/CSA_Research.

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