Monday, September 13, 2010

Obama spent $18 large to monitor Oil Spill coverage

From the Deepwater Horizon Incident Timeline to the dozens of posts pointing out the flailingly bad management of the spill response, this site hasn’t been exactly kind to the Obama regime, Secretariat Salazaravich or the transformation of the US Coast Guard from rescue heroes to trudging bureaucracy.  Hmmm.

I wonder how much of that was spent monitoring this blog?  Not much, I’m sure—I’m small time.  But it still makes for an awesome story:

WASHINGTON (AP) – The federal government hired a New Orleans man for $18,000 to appraise whether news stories about its actions in the Gulf oil spill were positive or negative for the Obama administration, which was keenly sensitive to comparisons between its response and former President George W. Bush’s much-maligned reaction to Hurricane Katrina.

The government also spent $10,000 for just over three minutes of video showing a routine offshore rig inspection for news organizations but couldn’t say whether any ran the footage. And it awarded a $216,625 no-bid contract for a survey of seabirds to an environmental group that has criticized what it calls the “extreme anti-conservation record” of Sarah Palin, a possible 2012 rival to President Barack Obama.

The contracts were among hundreds reviewed by The Associated Press as the government begins to provide an early glimpse at federal spending since the Gulf disaster in April. While most of the contracts don’t raise alarms, some could provide ammunition for critics of government waste.

Among all the contracts, perhaps none is more striking than the Coast Guard’s decision to pay $9,000 per month for two months to John Brooks Rice of New Orleans, an on-call worker for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, under a no-bid contract to monitor media coverage from late May through July.

Rice told the AP that he compiled print and video news stories and offered his subjective appraisal of the tone of the coverage. “From reading and watching the media I would create reports,” he said. “I reported either positive coverage, negative coverage, misinformation coverage.”

Check out the link for some really good stuff.  My personal favorite:

Yet the government’s new contracting data includes errors and vague entries that make it difficult to identify wasteful spending. It spent $52,000 on a boat charter described merely as “marine charter for things,” with no further explanation.

I have access to this database, and I’ll probably spend some time tomorrow going through it to see what else looks like fun.

It’s good blog and radio talker fodder, but it’s not unusual for government contracts awarded during emergencies to be less than specific on what’s being procured.  I’ve had a number of so-called “no bid” contracts awarded to my company—with absolutely no description provided in the contract documents—after Hurricanes and  flood events.  It’s not usually a big deal. The contracts are awarded in a legitimate hurry, usually after a phone call from contracting officers who know me, trust me and have a legitimate emergency need for our services.  We discuss the scope, negotiate the fee and the contract is awarded in short order. The contracts are later modified to provide more details, including the specific services provided, contract schedule, and any equipment or materials required. 

And no, even though I have been a frequent and vocal critic of the Obama regime’s response to this disaster, business isn’t going to suffer.  The CO’s who call me and are willing to award me a negotiated contract on an emergency basis are conservatives or retired military.