Several federal agencies seem to be stepping up preparations for civil unrest and ordering large quantities of hollow-point ammunition.

The first to draw public criticism was the Department of Homeland Security, which earlier this year ordered 450 million rounds of the .40-caliber bullets.

Recently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has placed an order for 46,000 hollow-point rounds. The online order states that the ammo is destined for the National Weather Service, though the NOAA later said it was actually meant for the Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement.

Now, the Social Security Administration has placed an order, viewable at the FedBizOpps website, for 174,000 rounds of “.357 Sig 125 grain bonded jacketed hollow point pistol ammunition.”

The SSA ammo is destined for 41 different locations around the U.S.

Hollow-point rounds are designed to flatten and expand when they hit a target, causing a larger wound than regular ammunition and increasing the likelihood of a fatal shot.

It’s been suggested that the agencies may just be spending leftover budget funds to ensure future funding, but the apparent emphasis on hollow-point ammunition raises a lot of questions.

The DHS has an obvious use for such ammo, but the large quantity has raised eyebrows in Congress and among Obama Administration detractors.

The DHS didn’t stop with hollow-point bullets, however. The agency has also been ordering bulletproof traffic-stop booths, riot gear and .357-Magnum ammunition capable of shooting through a wall. All the beefing up of its forces has apparently been in preparation for the Democratic and Republican conventions, as well as the presidential inauguration. The conventions have already been the targets of threats by groups like the New Black Panthers and Occupy Wall Street.

The NOAA order is a little more mystifying. It’s possible the Fisheries Office might be preparing for chance encounters with ornery hunters, but it at least raises a question of overkill.

Most worrisome in my viewpoint is the arming of the Social Security Administration. Earlier this month, Reuters revealed that U.S. regulators have ordered five of the country’s largest banks to prepare plans for surviving an economic collapse, stressing that they couldn’t count on the government for help.

The previously secret program has been in the works for two years, according to Reuters. The large order of ammo for the SSA, and its planned dispersal to so many offices, raises a question of whether the SSA is anticipating the proverbial well running dry and ensuing civil unrest.

Apart from the preparations’ raising the specter of some sort of civil war, there’s another serious issue here. Our Border Patrol, which actually faces heavily armed and hostile criminals on a daily basis, is stuck with using beanbag ammunition because our government is unwilling to risk killing people crossing the border.

But against citizens in normally non-hostile territory, our government is at least willing, if not actually planning, to use lethal, high-powered, specialized ammo.

So that leaves us mere civilians to wonder, what’s the federal government’s game plan?