What is the Treasury Department?

Thursday, March 30, 2023

It is not surprising that the U.S. Department of Treasury (Treasury) has been around since colonial times, as it undertakes an evergreen function of the federal government: managing the money. Since 1775, its role has expanded from collecting funds for the American Revolution to representing the U.S. economy and financial system globally, protecting U.S. citizens from financial fraud, and collecting taxes. With many critical functions, Treasury faces challenges, including deploying an organization-wide risk management strategy, modernizing its information technology (IT) systems, and international informational sharing.

History, Mission, and Organization

Historically, the Office of the Treasurer is older than Treasury itself! In 1775, the Continental Congress appointed Michael Hillegas and George Clymer as joint Treasurers of the United Colonies to raise money for the Revolutionary War. In addition, many other federal agencies were once a part of the Treasury, such as the U.S. Postal Service, Secret Service, and Coast Guard.

Treasury was founded in 1789 with An Act to Establish the Treasury Department, as Congress needed infrastructure to manage taxes and the country’s overall finances. President George Washington made Alexander Hamilton the first Treasury Secretary.

The Office of Financial Stability (OFS) was created within Treasury following the 2008 financial crisis under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (EESA). 

Today the Treasury’s mission is “to maintain a strong economy and create economic and job opportunities by promoting the conditions that enable economic growth and stability at home and abroad, strengthen national security by combating threats and protecting the integrity of the financial system, and manage the U.S. Government’s finances and resources effectively.” 

As an Executive Agency, Treasury promotes global economic growth, raising living standards, and mitigating and managing economic and financial crises.

The Agency’s primary responsibility is U.S. debt management, cash production, distributing Social Security benefit payments, tax collection, and federal financing. However, a growing part of the Agency’s mission is critical national security tasks, implementing economic sanctions against foreign threats, identifying and targeting the financial support networks of hazards, and improving financial systems’ safeguards. 

Globally, Treasury represents the U.S. in economic forums and financial institutions like the Group of 7 (G7) and Group of Twenty (G20), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Bank.

Currently, Treasury supports 100,000 professional workforces across the country and around the world. The Agency is organized into Departmental Offices, seven Operating Bureaus, and four Inspector General (OIG) Offices.

Departmental Offices are divided by Assistant Secretaries and Under Secretaries, who develop policy and manage Treasury as a whole.

  • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility updates and implements Treasury’s diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility strategy.
  • Domestic Finance advises on areas of household finance, banking, and other related economic matters, including developing guidance for Treasury activities related to financial institutions, federal debt finance, financial regulation, and capital markets.
  • Economic Policy analyzes domestic and international economic developments in the financial markets.
  • Financial Research (OFR) was established by Congress to serve the Financial Stability Oversight Council, its member agencies, and the public by improving the accessibility of financial data, sponsoring research on financial stability, and promoting best practices in risk management.
  • Financial Stability (OFS) helps stabilize the U.S. financial system and promote economic recovery by implementing the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).
  • General Counsel provides legal and policy advice to the Secretary and other senior Departmental officials and leads the Treasury Legal Division, which includes all Treasury legal counsels and their staff.
  • International Affairs further U.S. economic prosperity by strengthening the external environment for U.S. growth and managing global financial instability and challenges.
  • Legislative Affairs coordinates and advises all Treasury interaction with Congress and Congressional Relations offices in the White House and other agencies.
  • Management oversees internal budgets, human resources, information and technology management, financial management and accounting, procurement, privacy, records, and administrative services.
  • Public Affairs develops and advises Treasury communications.
  • Recovery Programs lead the implementation of economic relief and recovery programs related to financial challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Tax Policy devises tax policies and programs, administers the Internal Revenue Code, and provides estimates for the President’s budget and other fiscal policy and cash management.
  • Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI) execute strategies to combat terrorist financing domestically and internationally, the National Money Laundering Strategy, and other policies and programs to fight financial crimes.
  • Treasurer oversees the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the U.S. Mint and serves as a senior advisor and representative for the Treasury Secretary for community development and public engagement.

Operating Bureaus handle the specific operations of the Treasury. 

Treasury in Action

Treasury runs a wide range of programs; a few are described below.

The Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI): The HFFI is an interagency initiative involving the Treasury, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The HFFI is the federal government’s first coordinated effort to end “food deserts,” low-income urban and rural areas in the U.S. with limited access to affordable and nutritious food. The HHFI promotes a range of interventions that expand the supply of and demand for nutritious foods, such as increasing the distribution of agricultural products and better equipping grocery stores. The HHFI also helps organizations obtain federal grants, below-market-rate loans, and tax credits to attract private-sector financing to projects that increase access to healthy food options. 

Protect the Public: This initiative includes programs that ensure the integrity of the products and industry members in the marketplace, promote compliance with applicable laws and regulations, facilitate fair and lawful commercial trade in the alcohol and tobacco commodities, and provide full and accurate alcohol beverage product information to the public. TTB regulates nearly 61,700 businesses in this manner, including kombucha, alcohol fuel, and gunsmith companies. 

U.S. Mint Manufacturing: The U.S. Mint probably comes to mind when considering Treasury, as it undertakes circulating coinage, bullion coins, and numismatic coin products. Coinage refers to the penny, nickel, dime, and quarter-dollar coins delivered to the Federal Reserve Board at face value for subsequent distribution to the commercial banking system. To meet investor demand, the U.S. Mint produces bullion coins under American Eagle, American Buffalo, and America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin Programs. The U.S. Mint distributes numismatic products, such as uncirculated versions of coins, directly to the public. It also hosts occasional Design Competitions, like the 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Design Competition; these competitions are authorized by law, but winners are chosen by the public!

Contract Procurement, Acquisition, and Grants

Treasury federal contract obligations are significantly higher than the grant obligations, and both saw a spike in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021, likely due to the influx of COVID-19 relief funds.

The Assistant Secretary for Management, Chief Financial Officer, and Chief Performance Officer (ASM/CFO/CPO) is the principal policy advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary on the development and implementation of the Treasury budget; as such, it oversees Treasury acquisition and procurement.

The Senior Procurement Executive (SPE), also within the Management Office, manages the Procurement Services Division and the Office of the Procurement Executive (OPE). The Procurement Services Division is the operational procurement organization serving departmental offices.

OPE has several roles:

  • Department-wide acquisition management
  • Policy, process, career management, and improvement guidance for procurement programs and systems
  • Scorecard performance measures
  • Small and disadvantaged business participation
  • Department-wide career management program for acquisition professionals

It is important to note that most supplies, materials, equipment, and services are purchased through each Operating Bureau’s headquarters procurement offices. Since Treasury’s initiatives are manifold, this helps potential vendors market their products and services to the most relevant buyers. In addition, field purchase offices and individuals with purchase cards are other standard acquisition methods.

Most Treasury acquisition activities are governed by the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), except for the U.S. Mint. In 1996, Congress exempted the U.S. Mint from the Competition in Contracting Act (CICA). This means that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) cannot decide on bid protests against it, although the federal court is still an option.

Contracts are awarded competitively whenever possible, and most dollars are spent under negotiated procedures. Treasury only works with contractors it has deemed to be responsive and responsible. 

The requirements for being responsive and responsible are:

  • submitting a compliant proposal; 
  • having adequate financial resources;
  • complying with the delivery requirements;
  • having a satisfactory record of performance, integrity, and business ethics;
  • having the necessary organization, experience, accounting and operational controls, and technical skills; and
  • having the necessary production, construction, and specialized equipment and facilities.

Treasury hosts monthly Vendor Outreach Sessions, allowing potential vendors to discuss their capabilities and learn about relevant opportunities. Vendor Outreach Sessions provide information on how often products and services are purchased, how source lists are maintained, and how each Operating Bureau does business. 


Treasury helps oversee grant funding for specific legislation, such as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act (BIL) and the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. For example, Treasury awarded $100M to New York’s Capital Projects Fund; this grant money will connect 100K low-income housing units to affordable, high-speed internet. So far, Treasury has made similar awards in 37 states totaling $5.2B.

The Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) Program, established by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, was also overseen by Treasury. Distributing $2B in grant assistance, Treasury made awards to support payroll and other operational expenses for transportation service providers. The 1,400 awardees that endured loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic included motorcoach, school buses, passenger vessels, and pilotage companies. Over 90% of grants went to small businesses. 

Treasury also awards grants under the Social Impact Partnerships to Pay for Results Act (SIPPRA). Since 2018, SIPPRA has been designed to improve the effectiveness of specific social services. Treasury broadly distributes grant money for these Social Impact Partnership Demonstration Projects. For example, Treasury awarded a SIPPRA Project Grant and Independent Evaluator Grant to the City and County of Denver, Colorado, for its Housing to Health (H2H) program in 2021. The combined value of these grants is $6.3M. The H2H program is a permanent supportive housing program that reduces homelessness and increases housing stability. 

Recent Contracts

The following are a few contracts that Treasury awarded last year.

  • TCloud: SAIC won a $1.3B blanket purchase agreement in March 2023 to provide cloud computing services to Treasury. This initiative aims to improve the management of several ongoing cloud computing projects inside disparate entities across the Treasury. 
  • IRS Automated Identity Theft and Fraud Detection System: In January 2022, the IRS awarded a five-year, $73M contract to Accenture Federal Services to operate and maintain an automated identity theft and fraud detection system. The project supports the IRS’s Return Review Program in combating tax fraud. 
  • Solutions to Counter Cyber-Enabled Financial Crimes: TFI awarded a five-year, $500M blanket purchase agreement in September 2022 to Amentum for investigative and analytic solutions. The program provides intelligence, financial, and investigative expertise and technology-enabled approaches to TFI. 
  • Cloud Migration: IBM won an $84M IDIQ contract for cloud transition services and support. The BFS awarding body is adopting a platform-as-a-service model that will oversee more than 30 applications while responsibly managing sensitive unclassified data. The five-year award shall ultimately transition the Bureau’s data to a cloud environment.

Spending Trends

Treasury procures about $4B worth of products and services annually.

Treasury Small Business (SB) spending hovers around 40%, failing to meet its FY22 goal of 39%.

Based on the most commonly used PSCs and NAICS Codes, Treasury spends most of its money on various metals and IT products and services. GSA MAS Schedule and Newly Mined U.S. Gold Bullion Bars are Treasury’s go-to contracting vehicles. Most contract work is performed in Maryland, Virginia, Massachusetts, and California.

Top U.S. Federal Contractors (FY18-FY22):

  • Coins N Things Inc. 
  • Stonex Financial LTD 
  • A-Mark Precious Metals, Inc. 
  • Sunshine Minting, Inc. 
  • Crane & Co., Inc. 
  • Deloitte Consulting LLP
  • Wieland Rolled Products North America, LLC 
  • FCN Inc. 
  • The Toronto-Dominion Bank 
  • Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. 

Top Awarding Sub-Agencies (FY18-FY22):

  • U.S. Mint (USMINT) 
  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS) 
  • Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) 
  • Bureau of the Fiscal Service (BFS)
  • Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) 

Top PSCs (FY18-FY22):

  • 9660 – Precious Metal Primary Forms 
  • 9535 – Plate, Sheet, Strip, and Foil; Nonferrous Base Metal
  • D308 – IT and Telecom – Programming
  • 7030 – Information Technology Software 
  • R408 – Support – Professional: Program Management/Support 
  • D399 – IT and Telecom – Other IT and Telecommunications 
  • 9310 – Paper and Paperboard 
  • D318 – IT and Telecom – Integrated Hardware/Software/Services Solutions, Predominantly Services 
  • D306 – IT and Telecom – Systems Analysis
  • D304 – IT and Telecom – Telecommunications and Transmission 

Top NAICS Codes (FY18-FY22):

  • 331491 – Nonferrous Metal (except Copper and Aluminum) Rolling, Drawing, and Extruding 
  • 331410 – Nonferrous Metal (except Aluminum) Smelting and Refining 
  • 541519 – Other Computer Related Services 
  • 541512 – Computer Systems Design Services 
  • 331420 – Copper Rolling, Drawing, Extruding, and Alloying 
  • 322121 – Paper (except Newsprint) Mills 
  • 541511 – Custom Computer Programming Services 
  • 332999 – All Other Miscellaneous Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing 
  • 511210 – Software Publishers
  • 541611 – Administrative Management and General Management Consulting Services 


Most grant work occurs in Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida.

Top Grant Recipients (FY18-FY22):

  • Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources 
  • Texas Commission on Environmental Quality 
  • Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality 
  • AARP Foundation 
  • Bluehub Loan Fund Inc. 
  • Ohio Capital Finance Corporation 
  • Colorado Housing and Finance Authority 
  • Cinnaire Lending Corporation 
  • Rhode Island Housing 
  • Enterprise Community Loan Fund Inc.

Top CFDA Programs (FY18-FY22):

  • 21.024 – Community Development Financial Institutions Rapid Response Program (CDFI RRP) 
  • 21.011 – Capital Management Fund 
  • 21.020 – Community Development Financial Institutions Program 
  • 21.015 – Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States 
  • 21.021 – Bank Enterprise Award Program 
  • 21.009 – Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Matching Grant Program 
  • 21.012 – Native Initiatives 
  • 21.008 – Low Income Taxpayer Clinics 
  • 21.006 – Tax Counseling for the Elderly 
  • 21.017 – Social Impact Partnerships to Pay for Results Act (SIPPRA)

Treasury in 2023 and Beyond

With $5.35T, or 38% of the total Federal Government’s budget, in budgetary resources for FY23, Treasury has spent $594.75B in total obligations through the end of February 2023.

The IRS has obligated $2.8B for Taxpayer Services, $5.4B for Enforcement, and $4.1B for Operations Support; these high numbers come as no surprise considering it received the majority of Treasury funds. In addition, $100M is designated to the Cybersecurity Enhancement Account to protect critical IT systems, and another $324M is for the Community Development Financial Institutions. Additionally, BEP’s budget had an 89% increase from FY22.

Agency Priority Goals for FY22-FY23:

  • improve the payment experience; 
  • increase Treasury sustainability; and 
  • promote transparency in the financial system.

The 2023 Contract Opportunity Forecast predicts many new IRS and IT-related awards.

Treasury has its share of problems it is looking to tackle in FY24. Namely, these shortcomings are distributing COVID-19 pandemic relief, deterring cyber threats, enforcing the AML/Terrorist Financing and Bank Secrecy Act, modernizing IT acquisition and project management, implementing climate initiatives, and regulating digital assets. As lofty as these initiatives are, Treasury has actionable plans to address them in its Strategic Plan FY22-FY26.

The President’s FY24 Congressional Justification allocates $20.4B for Treasury. The IRS and Cyber departments would receive the most significant budget increases if approved. Below is a summary of the top-line requests: 

  • $14.1B is for the IRS to improve taxpayer experience and support a fair tax system; $290M of that is designated to IRS business systems modernization, which did not receive annual funding in 2023. 
  • $244M to TFI to expand Treasury’s ability to provide financial intelligence and conduct sanctions-related economic analysis while modernizing the sanctions process.
  • $229M to FinCEN to support the launch of the Beneficial Ownership Secure System and investment in the Treasury offices responsible for closing financial reporting loopholes. 
  • $215M, a $115M increase from FY23, is set aside to defend sensitive agency systems and information and implement Zero Trust Architecture. 
  • $332M to restore staffing level for Treasury core policy officers to 2016 levels and support the agency’s climate change efforts.

Researched and authored by Haley Boulanger, Pulse Analyst.

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