I Had Such High Hopes for Change
As with many of my fellow disillusioned Americans, I had lost all faith in our government some time ago. Obama’s true success during his run for the presidency was that he convinced the majority of Americans that change was possible and that he was the person to do it. I was skeptical, but I must admit that he said a lot of the right things during his campaign that led me to believe that he was serious. The most important and compelling case that he made in my eyes was a call for transparency. My thinking is that it is much harder for corrupt politicians to engage in such behavior when the people can see what is going on. I am not naive enough to think that the majority of people would care, but I do believe that enough people would for change to really manifest itself.
To say that Obama has let me down and mislead his fellow Americans to this point is an understatement. Do you want an example of the transparency that he supports? How about we look at the $18 MILLION dollar website Recovery.gov. This is the government’s website that is supposed to show us where the money is going. Aside from being a huge failure at its core purpose, the fact that it cost $18 MILLION should raise everyone’s eyebrows! For people unfamiliar with what it costs to develop a website, I ask you to consider that it cost roughly $1500-$2000 to create Digg which is one of the largest and most sophisticated sites on the internet. The cost appalls me, but the part that should REALLY concern everyone? How about the supposed transparency.
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.”
Want proof that nothing has changed in Washington? How about this little ditty from the man responsible saying that everything is fine:
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 contract is so heavily redacted that it is worthless. In all, 25 pages of a 59-page technical proposal — the main document in the package — were redacted completely. Of the remaining pages, 14 had half or more of their content blacked out.
The entire scenario disgusts me, not only because I feel lied to, but because I honestly believe that in this day and age, Obama was our best chance at any sort of change in the way our government works. In the end, he is one of them, and not one of us.
Here is the contract for those interested:
Recovery.gov Contract Documents