Bad Watchdog Season 2 launches June 20.

Policy Letter

Letter to David Drabkin, GSA' Deputy Assoc. Administrator -- Office of Acquisition Policy, requesting transparency and access to federal contract data, which is now controlled by a private contractor, Global Computer Enterprises, Inc.

Mr. David Drabkin

Deputy Associate Administrator

Office of Acquisition Policy

U.S. General Services Administration

1800 F Street, NW 4040

Washington, D.C. 20405-0002

Dear Mr. Drabkin:

We are writing to express our concerns regarding the current situation with the redesign, management and operation of the FPDS-NG system by Global Computer Enterprises, Inc. (GCE) under a contract agreement with your agency. While the privatization of the system was premised on substantial technological improvements over its GSA-operated predecessor, it now appears that - in spite of previously-stated Bush administration policy and continued assurances to the contrary from both GSA and GCE - public access will be hindered by excessive fees for data requests from noncommercial organizations and by efforts to exempt the GCE-managed data from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

The contract with GCE was signed over a year ago, the website has been "live" since October of 2003 and yet still no FY 2004 data is available. Nor have any official policies been announced regarding the handling of FOIA requests or noncommercial fees for access to this data. When access is provided to this data, we also understand that it will be in a far more limited format than was available under the old GSA system. We consider the widest possible noncommercial access to this data to be essential to effective public and congressional oversight of the billions of taxpayer dollars spent each year on contracts with private companies.

We therefore respectfully request that all data that was available prior to privatization continue to be made available under this new system - and that fees for noncommercial organizations and FOIA policies are not used to block access and weaken the transparency and accountability that previously was provided through broad public access to this unique database.

Sincerely,

Lori Wallach, Director

Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch

202 546 4996

www.tradewatch.org

Mark Tapscott, Director

Center for Media and Public Policy

The Heritage Foundation

202 546 4400

www.heritage.org

Danielle Brian, Executive Director

Project On Government Oversight

202 347 1122

pogoarchive.pub30.convio.net

Thomas Schatz, President

Citizens Against Government Waste

202-467-5300

http://www.cagw.org

Lucy Dalglish, Executive Director

Reporters' Committee for Freedom

of the Press

800 336 4243

[email protected]

Edward Hammond, Director

The Sunshine Project

101 West 6th St, Suite 607

Austin, TX 78701

Email: [email protected]

wwww.sunshine-project.org

James Love, Director

Consumer Project on Technology

202 387 8030

www.cptech.org

Patrice McDermott, Deputy Director

Office of Government Relations

American Library Association

202 628 8410

www.ala.org/washoff

Ari Schwartz, Associate Director

Center for Democracy and Technology

202 637 9800

www.cdt.org

Steve Lilienthal

Free Congress Foundation

202-546-3000

www.freecongress.org

Thomas S. Blanton, Director

National Security Archive

George Washington University

Tel: 202-994-7000

www.NSArchive.org