August 9, 2004

Letter to David Drabkin, GSA’s 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.

August 9, 2004

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.


Lori Wallach, Director
Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch
202 546 4996
Mark Tapscott, Director
Center for Media and Public Policy
The Heritage Foundation
202 546 4400
Danielle Brian, Executive Director
Project On Government Oversight
202 347 1122
Thomas Schatz, President
Citizens Against Government Waste
Lucy Dalglish, Executive Director
Reporters' Committee for Freedom
of the
800 336 4243
Edward Hammond, Director
The Sunshine Project
101 West 6th St, Suite 607
Austin, TX 78701
James Love, Director
Consumer Project on Technology
202 387 8030
Patrice McDermott, Deputy Director
Office of Government Relations
American Library Association
202 628 8410
Ari Schwartz, Associate Director
Center for Democracy and Technology
202 637 9800
Steve Lilienthal
Free Congress Foundation
Thomas S. Blanton, Director
National Security Archive
George Washington University
Tel: 202-994-7000

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