How-To Track Projects Like A Defense Contractor

Transparency Tip: How to Track Government Projects Like a Defense Contractor by Dave Maass.

From the post:

Over the last year, thousands of pages of sensitive documents outlining the government’s intelligence practices have landed on our desktops.

One set of documents describes the Director of National Intelligence’s goal of funding “dramatic improvements in unconstrained face recognition.” A presentation from the Navy uses examples from Star Trek to explain its electronic warfare program. Other records show the FBI was purchasing mobile phone extraction devices, malware and fiber network-tapping systems. A sign-in list shows the names and contact details of hundreds of cybersecurity contractors who turned up a Department of Homeland Security “Industry Day.” Yet another document, a heavily redacted contract, provides details of U.S. assistance with drone surveillance programs in Burundi, Kenya and Uganda.

But these aren’t top-secret records carefully leaked to journalists. They aren’t classified dossiers pasted haphazardly on the Internet by hacktivists. They weren’t even liberated through the Freedom of Information Act. No, these public documents are available to anyone who looks at the U.S. government’s contracting website, FBO.gov. In this case “anyone,” is usually just contractors looking to sell goods, services, or research to the government. But, because the government often makes itself more accessible to businesses than the general public, it’s also a useful tool for watchdogs. Every government program costs money, and whenever money is involved, there’s a paper trail.

Searching FBO.gov is difficult enough that there are firms that offer search services to assist contractors with locating business opportunities.

Collating FBO.gov data with topic maps (read adding non-FBO.gov data) will be a value-add to watchdogs, potential contractors (including yourself), or watchers watching watchers.

Dave’s post will get you started on your way.

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