Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

In Closed Bidding, Defense Contractor Gets $18M to Open Up Recovery.gov

BY Nancy Scola | Thursday, July 9 2009

We'll get the to the irony, but first the facts. ABC News' Rick Klein broke the story that a Maryland-based IT firm has been awarded a five-year contract worth a full $18 million to revamp the struggling Recovery.gov website. By general consensus, Recovery.gov isn't doing a very good job fulfilling its raison d'etre, which is serving as a window on giant government contracts awarded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in an effort to cut down on waste, fraud, and abuse. And so, it needs to be improved. The contract was awarded as part of the closed Alliant Government Acquisition Contract, a $50 billion behemoth (described by GSA as "indefinite-delivery, indefinite quantity" contract) that is open to only about 60 or so pre-approved government contractors. GSA's pre solicitation for the Recovery.gov redesign read, "There will be no public bid opening."

The lucky awardee for the Recovery.gov 2.0 contract, worth $9.5 million in the first six months alone, is called Smartronix Inc. According to the firm's website, the company is "a global professional solutions provider specializing in NetOps, Cyber Security, Enterprise Software Solutions, Defense & Commercial Products." Smartronix's client list is heavy on defense community organizations, including the Marine Corps, Navy, and the Pentagon.

Of course, there's some potential irony baked into what seems at first glance an out-sized government contract awarded in closed bidding, all to the end of increasing the transparency and oversight of government spending. In asking for bids, GSA said that the successful contractor "will use innovative and interactive technologies to help taxpayers see where their dollars are being spent." Good idea! To that end, an act.ly petition has sprung up asking that Smartronix conduct their build out of Recovery.gov 2.0 in an open and transparent way, including regular tweeting of how that $18 million is being spent. Will @whitehouse sign on? Stay tuned.

News Briefs

RSS Feed thursday >

Mark Pesce on "Hypercivility" at @CivicHall

A week ago, digital ethnologist Mark Pesce gave a talk here at Civic Hall on the topic of "Hypercivility." As you will see from watching the video, it's an extension of years of research and thinking he has done on the effects of hyperconnectivity on our world. Be forewarned, this is not an "easy" talk to watch or digest. While Pesce definitely has our social-media-powered "Age of Outrage" on his mind, he grounds his talk in a much more serious place: post-genocide Rwanda, which he recently visited. GO

First POST: Impossibles

The FCC vote; a proxy Democratic primary battle in Chicago; Gov Andrew Cuomo begins deleting all state employee emails more than 90 days old; men talking about women in tech; and much, much more. GO

wednesday >

First POST: Off the Books

Chicago's "black site"; The New York Times reports "little guys" like Tumblr and Reddit have won the fight for net neutrality but fails to mention Free Press or Demand Progress; Hillary Clinton fan products on Etsy to inspire campaign slogans?; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

First POST: Challenges

How Silicon Valley donors are thinking about Hillary Clinton 2016; Yahoo's security chief locks horns with the head of the NSA; Instagram location data catches a Congressman with his hand in the till; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: Bows

CitizenFour wins best doc; Ken Silverstein resigned from First Look Media and took to Facebook to vent; why we need more Congressional staffers; who profits from the net neutrality debate; banning PowerPoint presentations; and much, much more. GO

friday >

First POST: Sim Pickings

Using stolen encryption keys, the NSA and GCHQ can intercept and decrypt communications between billions of phones without notifying the service provider, foreign governments or users; get to know Sarah Harrison, the WikiLeaks editor who helped Snowden gain asylum in Russia; a profile of the Fight for the Future leaders; how the new wave of black community organizing is not hashtag activism; and much, much more. GO

More