The federal deficit for the first three months of the budget year is up slightly from the same period a year ago, reflecting the absence of a special payment from mortgage company Freddie Mac that helped narrow the gap in 2014. The Treasury Department says the government ran a deficit of $176.7 billion for the first three months of the current budget year, which began Oct. 1. That is up 2.4 percent from a $172.6 billion imbalance for the same three months in the 2014 budget year. However, last year’s books were helped by a special $24 billion payment Freddie Mac provided the government for support it received during the financial crisis. Budget experts still believe this year’s deficit will be lower than last year.