Federal government cuts $15 billion in contract spending

"We have reversed the trend of uncontrollable growth," Zients said in a conference call. "We're saving money and making sure every taxpayer dollar is being well spent. We certainly have much work to do."

The contracting cuts came from the cancellation of overdue information technology contracts at several departments including Homeland Security, Justice, Treasury and Veterans Affairs. The agencies were required to purchase software licenses as a group to save money, according to Dan Gordon, the administration's top contracting official.

"When agencies across the government are buying the very same software, but doing it through a series of individual contracts, we're not getting the benefit of being the world's largest customer," Gordon said.

Small businesses also are getting some preference for contracts, the officials said. 

"All too often, barriers to entry prevent us from getting those small business into the federal marketplace," Gordon said. "Getting more federal business to small business can help them get the revenue they need to get jobs and drive our economy forward."