I read with some interest a piece in the Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ralph-nader/government-secrecy_b_5036280.html where Ralph Nader railed against government secrecy. One of his proposed methods of curing this is to “post the full text of government contracts online.” His reason is “[f]ree access to government contracts by taxpayers, the media, scholars, watchdog groups, and even other bidders would be an important step to publicize how our government does its business with taxpayer money.” This doesn’t make sense. Among the reasons why:
(1) the vast majority of information contained in sometimes extremely large government contract documents is useless to the populations Nader proposes to assist by publishing the information. As I see it, the biggest benefit from this would be the increase in the bottom line for whichever contractor was chosen to create, upload and manage this extraordinary load of paper.
(2) what about the proprietary business information contained in the document? There are laws to protect that from disclosure that this would trample on.
(3) what about the government’s interests in safeguarding certain of its business processes, acquisitions, etc.? Do we want to make it quite so easy for potential competitors/adversaries outside of our boarders to assess our capabilities?
Though I disagree, strongly, with this, Nader’s piece is thought provoking and worth a read.