Fix the pumps

Thursday, September 14, 2006

How to keep tabs on Corps contracts around town

I've got few links on the right hand column of this site. One of them goes to the Corps' New Orleans District Contracting website.

This site shows all the contracts out for bidding currently, and many of the ones whose bidding preiods have passed. Click on the link with "Today" in it to see that day's activities. Other links show you activities in past days. The typical progression is issuance of a "Synopsis," which is available publicly. Usually a day later the actual bid solicitation will be issued, along with a Technical Data Package (TDP) if necessary. The Solicitation and TDP, along with any amendments which might be issued, are not available publicly, since they are behind a firewall called FedTeDS.

FedTeDS is a contracting application that is only available to companies which have registered with the government. To register, you must have a Dunn and Bradstreet number and a bunch of other information proving you're a company and not some pesky citizen. This was changed for the New Orleans District and the Mississippi Valley District (which is above New Orleans in the Corps command chain) just this past February 15 (as seen here), right in the middle of the biggest contracting bonanza since the Reagan Administration. It is all part of the Bush administration's broad-based effort to control information to keep it from falling into the hands of terrorists, though I have a hard time understanding what the terrorists would do with a bid solicitation for dirt.

Before February 15, everything was available to the public, which is how it should be. How in the world are we supposed to trust an organization with our tax dollars if it doesnt let us know how they are being spent?

Another wrinkle is the archiving of solicitations after a certain period. When they're archived, they're gone. But not really. You can go to http://www.fbodaily.com and find solicitations dating back years. The archive interface is a little clunky, but I've pulled stuff out of fbodaily that has been long gone from the Corps' own website.

If you're really interested, you can poke around both of these sites to get a flavor for all the post-Katrina work.

Finally, there is this file that I came across a couple of weeks ago. It seems to have disappeared since then, and I can't find where I got it. In any case, it is an Excel file listing of all the Corps contracts issued for Katrina, Rita, and Wilma through August 24 of this year. It shows over $3 billion spent by the Corps on Katrina alone, some of it a little suspect. I recommend checking out rows 1035, 1048, and 1259 on the Katrina sheet.

In any case, sometimes it's possible to get a peek at a bid solicitation. Here's the one for the rewinding of the pump motors in six stations in Orleans Parish. I got it through a FOIA request. This is the type of document that is essential to understanding how the Corps operates. It shows the exact schedule of rewindings and also the timescale expected of the contractor. This is information that should be available to all citizens.

For reference, rewinding is complete at stations 1, 6, and 7, and remains underway at stations 2, 3, and 5.

1 Comments:

  • Thanks you for making this blog/web page, and enabling comments without registering. I'm not surpised that you have to file FOI requests to get this information. Did you know that W's administration has made it so that citizens now have to pay twice for access to some government data/information that they've already paid for once through taxes. In order to get ahold of GIS data that I could get off the USGS EROS servers for free in 1999, I now have to pay GIS Data Depot for access to that data, and I don't even know if the .DLG files for certain areas of LA are still available at all, or were even made in the first place. "W" is no friend to higher education like Clinton was.

    As someone who foresaw the possibility of the east flood-wall of the 17th St. canal fracturing under the right conditions the 1993/1994 holiday season, and continued to see that posibility every time she crossed the 17th street canal, until the last bridge on Vets. Hwy. that blocks vision into the canal to the north was put in place, I want all the information I can get on the COE's "science" and justification for what they are doing. I know why the the east flood-wall of the 17th street canal "broke" before the west flood-wall. The evidence may still be at the bottom of the 17th street canal.

    By Anonymous clmiller, a.k.a wookiecat, OKLAtoNOLA, OKCtoMSY, frustrated16 on nola.com forums, at September 14, 2006 11:31 PM  

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