13 February 2006

To FEMA, RE: WTC video and image capture

To the folks at FEMA who make decisions on such things:

Well, you folks have definitely stepped in it with the non-delivery of the WTC timeline images (h/t Michelle Malkin, Steve Janke). Now, perhaps it is just me, but I seem to remember that there was always a number of hoops to jump through before spending Federal Funds, be they Grant or Contract.

The very, very first, unless it was a Congressionally Directed Action (CDA or 'Earmark', aka Pork) is that you unless the language explicitly stated that you 'shall' use a company or individual to do work, you are required (even with the 'shall' language) to demonstrate that the recipient chosen has the necessary credentials and proper payment schema for the work involved. With what has happened here, the Contracting Officer, I suspect, is in very hot water, indeed.

Second, even if there is money available for a Contract, one must ask if there is a cheaper way to do the work without having to pay out the funds. Now, far be it from me to point out Federal Agencies that have many, many skilled photographers that would have been honored to work Temporary Duty (TDY) in NYC to do this work. I mean you must have decided that the FBI, CIA, Dept. of Agriculture, many civilian branches of DoD, DEA, and even, I bet, the video and materials production people in YOUR OWN AGENCY could have done the work at far, far less cost and would have been happy to have served and just gotten COPIES of their work. PLUS the aforementioned Federal Agencies would have also PRODUCED or helped to produce final productions that would have been informative. I mean all of you folks traipse stuff before Congress endlessly, and if you can produce material for their needs making something for the public should not be difficult at all.

Third, who was the Contracts Officer that let either a Contract or a Grant go without the necessary Copyright language in it to require that there is Government Ownership of all goods paid for? Yes, there are numerous clauses and such, but I do bet that your Agency has done similar in the past with other disasters and should have a stock set of paragraphs to bundle into the verbiage.

Finally, I bet that you had a pre-set procedure for describing and vetting individuals and groups that do such work and reviewed proposals against same. Didn't you? If you didn't, then your entire Contracts and Grants folks will be seeing the Inspector General from your Agency and if they find documents *missing*... there is always plenty of space for people left in Pen for more bodies to turn big rocks into small rocks. That is *after* repaying the funds to the Government, which I can bet at the pay scale of your Contracts Officer will be the equivalent of putting them into bankruptcy.

You folks get a main course in contracting, and I bet you get refresher courses every two years and annual ethics and legal retraining. And the Contracting Officer, I further bet, gets months of courses in how to properly account for Federal funds. In fact, I *know* you do, it is a sure bet. And the Contracting Officer Technical Reprisentative is, I bet, also going to be facing some stiff penalties in all of this. And that individual had to go through the annual dance, too.

So the next time you need to spend long-term money, I will bet you will follow the rules a bit more. I am sure that your new Boss and DHS is not pleased with this, Katrina and all the other work that has gone on the past year or so. They are left holding the bag. And that bag will be sent to the DoJ if the IG isn't already working on it.

Remember, next time you need stills and video shot, are given money to allocate for it, please, *please* contact other Federal Agencies that work in that area. Dept of the Interior has so many people able to do such it is not funny. Similarly Dept of Justice, who could have given you not only well done but forensically important images. Same with DoD, especially those groups that have done bomb-site analysis. REALLY and FOR TRUE. Trusted Federal employees with skills working for the mere pittance of TDY to serve their country.

You have slapped all of them in the face with this.

I hope all those involved are punished to the fullest extent possible of the law.


A Jacksonian

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