Obama Transparency Group Keeps Details SecretSubmitted by JerichoDotm on Fri, 08/14/2009 - 00:34
Back in July, a software company named  Smartronix landed an $18 million contract to build a Web site where taxpayers could easily track billions in federal stimulus money. It was just another part of the Obama administration’s ongoing effort to bring transparency to stimulus spending, we were told.
But it seems the drive for transparency doesn’t cover the contract itself.
After weeks of prodding by ProPublica and other organizations, the General Services Administration released copies of the contract and related documents that are so heavily blacked out they are virtually worthless.
Don’t believe us?  Take a look.
ProPublica sought the contract under the Freedom of Information Act to find out what kind of site Smartronix planned to build and to assess whether it justified the cost, which Republican critics of the stimulus plan called  “unreal.”
Ed Pound, the director of communications for the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, defended the redactions as “legitimate.” The Web site Smartronix is to build will replace  Recovery.gov, the existing stimulus Web portal run by the transparency board.
“I’m not concerned about whether journalists are concerned about this,” Pound said. “We have been very transparent.”
The GSA declined to comment, but said in its response to ProPublica’s FOIA request that such redactions were allowed if material “involves substantial risk of competitive injury” to a contractor.
But the blacked-out information includes material that seems harmless to the company, such as the names and backgrounds of  key personnel and the  number of visitors expected by the site during traffic spikes.