As my colleague, Dr. Julie Knight, discussed in an earlier post, the Maryland Department of Commerce (Commerce) was recently awarded a grant from the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) to research the defense industry in Maryland. Specifically, the grant is interested in identifying companies within the defense industry, determining their dependency on DOD funding, and finding ways to support economic diversification within Maryland.

As part of Towson University Regional Economic Studies Institute’s efforts to identify companies within the Defense industry in Maryland, our team combed through the last three years of USA Spending data. USA Spending (available online at is a public site listing all federal contracts, grants, loans, or other financial awards of $25,000 or greater. The website lists the federal agency making the award, the name of the company receiving the award, the amount, the location of the company, the place of performance for the award, and other information. Our team examined data for fiscal years 2014, 2015, and six months of 2016 in order to generate the maps below displaying the number of prime and first-tier subcontractors who received a grant or contract from the DOD and who are located in Maryland.


Most of the density seen in the maps corresponds to the proximity to a military installation. For example, Southern Maryland has a large number of businesses who contract with or receive grants from the DOD in part due to the closeness of large facilities such as Naval Air Station Patuxent River, the Naval Research lab – Chesapeake Bay Detachment, and Naval Support Facility Indian Head. The number of vendors around Baltimore is driven by proximity to Aberdeen Proving Ground and Fort Meade. Similarly, the density in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. comes from a mix of military installations, such as Joint Base Andrews and Naval Support Activity Bethesda, but also by Federal contractors with offices close to the Pentagon.

Notably, Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore have few companies contracting with the DOD. This reflects the lack of military installations to the west of Fort Dietrich in Frederick and east of Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County.

It is important to note that USA Spending data does not tell the whole story of Maryland’s defense industry. For example, contracts originating from the NSA are not made available. This limits our ability to map Maryland’s booming cyber industry and other supporting sectors. In our eventual release of the Maryland Defense Network, an interactive supply chain mapping tool, we hope to capture companies that are not part of the federal database. One way we are identifying companies not listed in publicly available data as DOD contractors is through a series of surveys disseminated by Commerce. The first survey requests information regarding the participant’s company. The second survey is a request for the participant’s supplier list.

Stay on the lookout for more information about the maps and data our team is assembling to show Maryland’s connection to the military and DOD contracting.