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Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

Opting Out of Contract Database

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Last week the Office of Management and Budget crowed about meeting a deadline to create a publicly accessible Web site to provide data on federal contracts, grants, and loans. The fine print of that announcement noted that the data would cover about 90 percent of federal spending.

So what's in the other 10 percent? That's what we're starting to learn. Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists reports that several defense intelligence agencies have successfully made the case that they should not have to report even unclassified contracting actions to the database due to "operational security isues."

Defense News, Aftergood notes, uncovered a memo from Shay D. Assad, director of Defense procurement and acquisition policy, granting the Defense Intelligence Agency, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and Counterintelligence Field Activity a waiver from reporting requirements, at least for fiscal 2007 and 2008.

"I appreciate your concerns that reporting these actions to the publicly accessible website could provide unacceptable risk of insight to your individual missions and budgets," Assad wrote.

But as Aftergood notes, contracting data from these agencies for previous years will be available on OMB's USAspending.gov site. It's also been available online via other sources for years. So it's a little odd that this information suddenly represents a security risk.

(Hat tip: Government Inc.)

Tom Shoop is vice president and editor in chief at Government Executive Media Group, where he oversees both print and online editorial operations. He started as associate editor of Government Executive magazine in 1989; launched the company’s flagship website, GovExec.com, in 1996; and was named editor in chief in 2007.

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