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Watchdog group seeks better-quality contract data

Apr. 23, 2010 - 06:00AM   |  
By TOM SPOTH   |   Comments
The nonprofit Project on Government Oversight sent a letter to Martha Johnson, head of the General Services Administration, concerning irregularities in the federal contractor database USAspending.gov.
The nonprofit Project on Government Oversight sent a letter to Martha Johnson, head of the General Services Administration, concerning irregularities in the federal contractor database USAspending.gov. (CHRIS MADDALONI / FEDERAL TIMES)

The McDonnell Douglas Corp. received just over $1 billion in government contracts in fiscal 2009, ranking the company 66th among all contractors, according to the federal contractor database USAspending.gov.

One problem, though the aerospace firm was bought out by Boeing Corp. in 1997. Boeing is No. 2 on the list, with more than $20 billion in contracts.

This irregularity is one of several pointed out by the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight in a letter sent yesterday to Martha Johnson, head of the General Services Administration, which manages the procurement database. The letter also went to Office of Federal Procurement Policy chief Dan Gordon and federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra.

Neil Gordon, an investigator with POGO, said the organization noticed the problems while using USAspending.gov to compile its Federal Contractor Misconduct Database.

Other apparent errors highlighted by POGO: ITT Corp. appears twice on the Top 100 list for fiscal 2009, at No. 17 and No. 97, and Northrop Grumman Corp. is No. 3, while its Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Inc. subsidiary is listed separately at No. 35.

"It does kind of shake our confidence" in the database," POGO's Gordon said. "It seems like the kind of thing that could be easily fixed if they did a more thorough scrubbing of the data."

He said POGO will continue to use the USAspending.gov data, and POGO's letter acknowledged that "government contract data has come a long way" and that USAspending.gov has provided federal contracting information to the public in a more timely and user-friendly manner.

GSA officials did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

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