I am conTENT. My work is CONtent.

3 citizen watch sites compared on S.680: GovTrack, Washington Watch, FantasyCongress

Posted by contentgrrl on November 13, 2007

I can’t believe it. My little subscriptions to finally showed me the story I’ve been looking for on federal procurement. And it gave me the impetus to find other sites that are fun to use as a citizen, including FantasyCongress’ play on FantasyFootball.

With, I like the ability to subscribe to actions by specific representatives or senators and specific topics related to legislation, since from year to year and House to Senate the actual titles and numbers are unlikely to stay the same.

GovTrack. us Nov 7, 2007 – Bill Action
Passed Senate: S. 680: Accountability in Government Contracting Act of 2007
Passed Senate by Unanimous Consent.

Washington Watch focuses on a bill’s cost per average family (or person, and so on), has space to comment on the bill, vote for or against, and find more information.

With FantasyCongress, the same way sports fans play with their teams, citizens can play with their government. “Only at Fantasy Congress can you draft, bench, or trade a Member of Congress. ” A Senator’s page shows his or her stats, legislation, amendments, maverick votes, and so on. A bill’s page shows the party slant based on votes, and a shiny graphical representation of its stage in the legislative process (it looks like a sport league bracket).

The example I’ve used in comparison, S.680, is only of interest to me for a story I’m writing. Similar legislation has been proposed for many years, and I was surprised to see action on it. says:

Federal Contracting Rules. S. 680 would amend various rules on using noncompetitive and sole-source contracts, including restrictions on the contract period for noncompetitive contracts and limits on the use of sole-source contracts. Imposing restrictions on the length of noncompetitive contracts and limiting the use of solesource contracts could increase the costs of administering contracts but also could lower procurement costs by encouraging the use of other acquisition practices.

The site for Senator Susan Collins, R-Me., has an article that gives some good detail. S.680 includes provisions for a more professionally trained acquisition workforce, stronger competition in federal contracting, and accountability for the resulting value of the purchases, and more transparency to curtail waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayers’ money. Two key provisions affect software system houses (like the company who writes my paycheck) and trading partners (like our customers and my audience):

  • Strengthen effective oversight and transparency when “sole source” contracting is appropriate by requiring publication of notices at the “FedBizOpps” website of all sole source task or delivery orders above the simplified acquisition threshold within ten business days after the award.
  • Rein in the practice of awarding contracts missing key terms – such as price, scope, or schedule – and then failing to supply those terms until the contractor delivers the good or service, by requiring contracting officers to unilaterally determine all missing terms, if not mutually agreed upon, within 180 days or before a certain percentage of the work is performed.

The senators also touted the bill as an answer to the Department of Homeland Security’s reliance on contractors, which was possibly why it got enough attention to pass.

One Response to “3 citizen watch sites compared on S.680: GovTrack, Washington Watch, FantasyCongress”

  1. contentgrrl said

    Just found out that WebReference mentioned this tip in one of its biweekly newsletters.

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