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Posts Tagged ‘statistics’

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.

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get published in business, trade, or industry magazines

Posted by contentgrrl on November 6, 2007

Can you can write? Do you have some interests and passions that you can work up into articles of various lengths? If you have something to say worth reading about trends in your industry, you can probably get published.

What trade or industry magazines do you read now? Nestled among their list of editors’ names and advertising sales contacts, each magazine usually has an editorial calendar and an authors’ or writers’ guidelines for submitting article ideas. Some of this information may actually be in the Advertising section of the magazine’s Web site, but as you research your target publication, it will be useful to determine if you can write to fill their needs.

As a former trade rag editor, I know that all editors love useful content that meets their guidelines. Call up the editor of a magazine you’re reading, tell ’em you’re a big fan, and offer to write up something to fill the gaps in their editorial calendar, or contribute a sidebar or viewpoint opposing what they already have slated.

If you can come up with highly readable tips, guidelines, research statistics, book reviews, and analysis of current trends or events (for example, in business, mergers & acquisitions, international investments, and so on), you’re more likely to be paid.

Of course, some business magazines already have interns and editorial advisory board members who provide or review much of the content. But if you can write better than they can, and pass the gatekeepers, you’ll do fine!

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