I spend about four to six hours a week on the FedBizOpps contract website trolling for the raw material of articles, and since the start of the year I have noticed an alarming trend: redacted contract awards (usually sole source) lacking financial details.
Usually the top of these heavily scrubbed contract notices give me idea of what a particular agency wants to buy, the vendor and what it will be used for.
But not this March 4 notice from the Army Contracting Command in Aberdeen, Md., which teased me with the note it was for a “Subscription renewal for Red Hat Inc brand support” but offered no other details.
I then clicked the “J&A Redacted" (Justification and Approval -- link here) and found out this contract covered Red Hat Linux software, which powers the global Military Health System. This software contract was -- oddly in my view -- awarded by the Tobyhanna division of the Army contract shop located at the Tobyhanna, Penn., Army depot, whose primary mission is to repair tactical radios and other gadgets.
The J&A notice says that MHS has invested “tremendous amounts of time and money” into Red Hat, views it as key to its operations, and has no plans to switch out the software.
Okay. So, why bury these details? And, how much money will the Army pay for continued use of Red Hat, a key fact blacked out in the redacted contract notice?This does not fit in with the transparency President Obama promised shortly after he took office the first time.