Mother Jones' Michael Sherer on the latest development in outsourcing: For 25 years, the clearest window into the murky world of federal contracting has been an obscure public database available to anyone for a nominal fee. No longer. Under a new deal approved by the White House, the government's voluminous compilation of contracting information has been turned over to a contractor. Established by an act of Congress in 1979, the Federal Procurement Data System was a rare island of public information, the only complete record of federal contracts. Using the database, journalists, auditors and federal investigators could review the million or so agreements with corporations Uncle Sam signed each year. They could find the companies reaping the largest awards, track the rise in no-bid deals, and measure the recent drive to replace federal employees with corporate employees. But under a new contract, the General Services Administration has now turned over responsibility for collecting and distributing information on government contracts to a beltway company called Global Computer Enterprises, Inc.


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