Obama Admin. Pays $18 Mill for Something That Already Exists
3:55 PM, Jul 9, 2009 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
Well, Recovery.gov (or is it Recvoery.gov?) needs more than nifty diagrams of money that may or may not have already been spent, so the tech-savviest administration ever went looking for a vendor. It succeeded in getting one to redesign the site for a mere $18 million:
So, it could only cost $9 million, with the option to spend up to $18 million. Raise your hand if you think the government will end up on the low end of that estimate. No one? All right. Moving on. Sunlight Labs, which bid on the job, notes that we have no idea yet what we're supposed to be getting for this $18 million. Just like the stimulus! Maybe someday we can pay $13 million for a site that will track the $18 million-dollar tracking site redesign, a year after the fact. Twitter is lousy today with discussion of the pricetag.
The changes to the site are necessary to live up to the promises Obama made about transparency when passing the stimulus:
Of course, because the necessary changes will be taking place after more than $100 billion has been spent, and during a summer when the administration has promised to increase the speed of spending (Although who knows by how much? Not the White House!), there's no way to tell how much of that money has been lost to waste or fraud and how much has been spent wisely.
Or, is there? At Recovery.org, a site run by a private company whose job it is to track government spending and contract processes, there's real-time tracking of stimulus spending. They normally collect and sell such information to businesses looking for government contracts, but decided to chart the stimulus because they realized they could deliver what Obama had promised.
The company's CEO Mike Pickett testified to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform yesterday about the site, which is frequently used by U.S. government agencies themselves to track stimulus spending in the absence of a useful iteration of Recovery.gov: