Overlooked Story of the Week

I suspect this has something to do with all the Halliburton scandals (kickbacks, overcharging, etc.), as well as how we’ve been outsourcing our military/intelligence operations to a bunch of non-accountable mercenary companies:

Established by an act of Congress in 1979, the Federal Procurement Data System was a rare island of public information, the only complete record of federal contracts. Using the database, journalists, auditors and federal investigators could review the million or so agreements with corporations Uncle Sam signed each year. They could find the companies reaping the largest awards, track the rise in no-bid deals, and measure the recent drive to replace federal employees with corporate employees. But under a new contract, the General Services Administration has now turned over responsibility for collecting and distributing information on government contracts to a beltway company called Global Computer Enterprises, Inc.

In signing the $24 million deal, the Bush Administration has privatized not only the collection and distribution of the data, but the database itself. For the first time since the system was established, the information will not be available directly to the public or subject to the Freedom of Information Act, according to federal officials. "It’s a contractor owned and operated system," explains Nancy Gunsauls, a project manager at GCE. "We have the data."

As reported here, information about who your government is contracting with, and for what — some of which was available on-line for FREE, or otherwise available for no more than $500 — could run you (and journalists, etc.) as much as $35,000 per inquiry.

Why is this worthy of your contempt? Folks, we live (supposedly) in a democracy with an open government. As one blogger said: "We can’t hold our government accountable if information about its actions is considered to be proprietary data, owned by a private corporation rather than by the American people." Amen.

Expansionism, government secrecy, human rights violations . . . Is it just me — or are we becoming more and more like the former Soviet Union every day?

What do you think?