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Ben Matheson

ICE Contracts in Every State

Like any government bureaucracy, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Detention Compliance and Removals Office buys a a variety of supplies to run their detention facilities and maintain their offices. In light of public attention on the agency, I built a small tool to explore the millions of dollars in contracts.


In addition to office essentials like copy paper and housekeeping services, the agency has contracts on the books for items like “alien meals,” “Cuffs/Belly Chains/ Shackles” (Galls, Inc), and a “database For Use By Fugops And Lear Teams To Assist In Apprehension Of Absconders And Criminal Illegal Aliens.” (Vigilant Video, Inc).

Mundane items that take on new meaning when described in the context of their intended use. “Mesh Bags Will Be Utilized By Detainees To Place Their Personal Items During Repatriation Flights.” (Nyp Corp)

Enigma Public publishes data from USA Spending detailing the millions of contracts that federal agencies execute each year. I used a subset of the FY2017 data for this visualization.

After a minimal amount of data processing and exploration in R, I built out a small React app to allow people to explore individual contracts for a given state.

I wanted to spend time working with a few core React patterns, such as loading data in a lifestyle method: (componentDidMount), and using event handlers to update state. The next version will break the somewhat monolithic component design into presentational and container components to enhance usability and separation of concerns.

Code is here.

Live version of the website.