How do I get government contracts

"Secret War": NDR and Süddeutsche Zeitung make 300,000 US government contracts transparent

Status: 11/26/2013 3:43 p.m.

Billions of dollars for ammunition, military research and lunch: From now on, all Internet users can see where the USA spends this money in Germany. Norddeutsche Rundfunk and Süddeutsche Zeitung are researching the "Secret War" series, making transparent more than 300,000 orders that US government institutions have placed in Germany over the past twelve years. For this purpose, a US government database was journalistically sorted and made searchable.

In this way, users can go from being observed to being observer: details of the around 300,000 orders can be viewed and searched through the website ( database). The Berlin company OpenDataCity prepared the database of an American registry for government contracts on behalf of NDR and SZ. The data was pre-sorted in terms of content - entries unrelated to Germany were removed and a search function was programmed.

The basis is the so-called "Federal Procurement Data System" (FPDS), a central collection point for government orders. Since there is a fundamentally different understanding of transparency in the United States, there are usually many documents and contracts on the Internet - including the data of the FPDS. Once the state signs a contract with a company or organization that is worth at least $ 3,000, details about the deal are entered in the database. The orders noted there are theoretically freely accessible, but technical restrictions have prevented a simple evaluation so far. For example, it was only possible to query a period of a maximum of five years. On certain keywords are also linked to locations so that the orders can be assigned to them.

Not every company that is listed in the database therefore has to be a partner of secret services and the military. This is shown, for example, by surprising database finds such as receipts from an automobile club for towing and maintenance services or invoices for several pallets of energy drinks. American soldiers and government employees buy and consume like everyone else - orders for cleaning supplies appear as well as for tank ammunition.

Since November 14th, the Norddeutsche Rundfunk and the Süddeutsche Zeitung have been reporting in the joint series "Secret War" about how the US military and the American and British secret services control the fight against terrorism from Germany. The results of the research are presented in multimedia form on the website and are published in the radio program NDR Info, in the first, on NDR television and in the Süddeutsche Zeitung and on the SZ and NDR websites.

On November 28th, Das Erste will be showing a themed evening on the "Secret War". It starts at 9.45 pm with the NDR magazine "Panorama", followed by "Beckmann", followed by the documentary "Dirty Wars" at midnight in German for the first time. On Tuesday, December 3rd, at 9 pm, "Panorama - die Reporter" will report on the "Secret War" on NDR television. NDR employee Christian Fuchs and "Panorama" reporter John Goetz have also published the book "Secret War" in Rowohlt-Verlag.

November 26, 2013 / IB

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