Barack Obama promised to end the influence and corruption in Washington, campaigning on Hope and Change. His plan to reverse the economic decline was supposed to be a model of this new culture of openness and transparency, with the new Recovery.gov website as its crown jewel. David Freddoso reports exclusively at the Washington Examiner that the new crown jewel will get polished by the politically connected:
ABC reports this morning that the Maryland firm Smartronix has won what seems like an enormous $18 million contract to re-design the Recovery.gov website. Approximately $9.5 million would be spent by January in order to make “Recovery 2.0” out of the site that is at least supposed track the spending of federal stimulus funds in detail.
Smartronix, a medium-sized Maryland-based firm (over 500 employees) founded in 1995, boasts a large number of government clients, mostly military. The company appears to have just one important political connection: according to FEC records, Smartronix president, Mohammed Javaid, vice president Alan Parris, and partner John Parris have together given $19,000 to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D) since 1999.
First, let’s focus on the dollar amount for this contract. Since when does it cost $18 million for a website, even one with a database requiring updates on a quarterly basis? Fedspending.org, the project from OMB Watch, does exactly what Recovery.gov promises for a fraction of that cost — and Fedspending covers the entire federal budget, not just Porkulus.
Fedspending provides a look at Smartronix’ interactions with the government. In FY2007, for instance, Smartronix got $47 million in federal contracts. Of that revenue, only $132,000 came in the form of fully open, multi-bid competition. Its other contracts either came as the result of a single-bid competition ($25 million) or competition with other sources excluded ($20 million).
Did other companies bid on the Recovery.gov contract? Or did it get handed to Hoyer’s cronies like its other projects? David Freddoso says that the Examiner has more to come.