After three straight months of monthly surpluses, the federal government spent $6.7 billion more than it took in in March, new data from the Department of Finance showed Friday.

The $6.7 billion deficit is smaller than the $8 billion deficit Ottawa posted the same month a year ago. But it reverses the trend of monthly surpluses seen between December and February.

For the fiscal year as a whole, the federal government remains on track to beat its own projection of a $16.6 billion shortfall. 

As it stands, early indications are that Ottawa racked up a $12.1 billion deficit this past year — more than $4 billion less than forecast. But that figure may change once various accounting adjustments are made.

For comparison purposes, Ottawa posted an $18.7 billion deficit in the 2012-2013 fiscal year that ended in March 2013.

Program expenses went up by $6.8 billion, an increase of 2.8 per cent. But that was more than offset by revenues that came in $13.2 billion or 5.2 per cent higher.