(Brendan Hoffman/BLOOMBERG)

But in an age of budget belt-tightening, federal agencies spent a combined $535 billion on contracting in fiscal 2011, on par with the previous year. The sum means federal contract spending held steady with fiscal 2010 — the first time that’s happened in almost two decades, White House officials said Friday.

“We have moved in a sustainable way into an era of more accountable contract spending and getting a better return for every taxpayer dollar,” White House Controller Danny Werfel, who is responsible for financial management issues, said in a blog post.

Werfel noted that the administration has identified an additional $50 million in contracting savings this fiscal year by cutting spending on office supplies and delivery services. Those cuts are part of an aggressive push by the White House in recent years to curtail contract spending and other redundancies, including plans to sell off excess federal real estate, cut back on official travel and end the distribution of some “office swag.”

Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

Further reading:

David Sharrett’s family still wants justice for friendly fire death in Iraq

Violence in wake of Koran incident fuels U.S. doubts about Afghan partners

For more, visit PostPolitics and The Fed Page.