It is not generally known to what an extent the Treasury Department of the United States is a builder, or to what extent its demands for material and labor influence the market; nor do many contractors or material men know much about the nature of the contracts to be awarded, and there is a kind of superstition that such contracts are so bound up in "red tape" that it is wise for contractors and men with good material to keep out of this market. It is the object of this paper to show the amount of work which is under the control of the Treasuiy Department; to indicate its general nature and the conditions under which contracts are let and the work executed, and which govern the furnishing of materials; and to explain the nature of the formal contract and in what respects it differs from those usually required between individuals.

Government work is not all red tape. In fact, when the reasons for certain fixed lines of action are understood, the red tape appears in the light of necessary business machinery, which, if more frequently applied with discretion to private enterprises, would assist in producing results far in advance of the average now obtained.

Number and Value of Buildings Now under Way and Contemplated in the Near Future. There are now (January, 1907) under contract, wholly or in part, or for which contracts will probably be awarded within two years, approximately 250 buildings, the cost limit of which, including sites, has been fixed by Congress at approximately $40,000,000. Placing the cost of sites at about 20 per cent of the limit of cost, it will appear that there is to be spent in material and labor over $30,000,000. At the rate at which work is generally carried on, the disbursements involved through the different channels will be from $600,000 to $1,000,000 a month. While there are many corporations in the world disbursing an equal sum for materials and labor required in industrial enterprises, there is probably none where such large sums are disbursed through general channels open to so many branches of industry.