The Environmental Protection Agency awarded an $827,677 contract last month to ICF Inc., a Washington firm, to analyze energy, economic and environmental trade-offs that the agency should consider.

About the same time, the Navy awarded Yale University $313,453 to study changing race relations between workers and managers, and the Federal Home Loan Bank Board gave $35,921 to the Alto-Hartly Restaurant Equipment Co. of Alexandria to convert the kitchen in its headquarters building from electricity to gas.

Are these, and many of the thousands of other year-end contracts, really necessary? That is a question that has plagued administrations in the past as officials scrambled to commit funds before the fiscal year ended. Uncommitted money went back to the federal treasury, and an agency that could not spend all the money allotted to it one year was at a disadvantage arguing for more money the next.

For the next several months, watchdogs at the General Accounting Office, the General Services Administration and the Office of Management and Budget will be snooping into individual contracts, exploring management policies and reviewing figures in an effort to determine if the Reagan administration has achieved one of its loftiest bureaucratic goals: trimming year-end spending.

OMB spokesman Edwin L. Dale Jr. said the Reagan administration is "committed to stopping practices that have prevailed in which contracts were given out just for the sake of getting rid of money that was left over at the end of a year." OMB already has moved to curtail improper uses of consulting service contracting, equipment purchases and publication services.