Last week GSA awarded an 18 million dollar contract to redesign Recovery.gov to Smartronix, a firm headquartered in Maryland, through the Alliant contract vehicle, which was conceived a few years ago (although this is the first contract awarded under the scheme).
This looks like a hefty price, although just a slice of the 84 million available to the recovery board (see my earlier post and related comments). Looking at Smartronix’ web site and their client list, they look like being primarily a defense contractor, not exactly the profile one would expect for a site like Recovery.gov. It is also interesting that – at the time of writing this post – all they say about the award on their web site is that “A formal press release is soon to follow”: what about transparency and immediacy?
Clearly there are aspects about robustness and trustworthiness that make this a high-profile, high-risk contract. On the other hand, I would have expected somebody with a more prominent public record on developing innovative portals and on championing support to transparency (I guess defense contracts are not amongst those for which public access and transparency are of the highest priority). Apparently, only three companies bid, and this raises the question about whether the Alliant contract vehicle is the most appropriate for something that initially started under the aegis of crowdsourcing and is likely to be under intense public scrutiny over the next several months.
All the above, of course, is entirely based on reading the announcement and looking at what the company tells about itself on its web site. But this is how people who just access public information may see this as well.