Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

September 14, 2006

DHS contract: $266k for AP wire services

Filed under: DHS News — by Christian Beckner on September 14, 2006

Fedbizopps posted a notice today about DHS’s intention to award a sole-source firm-fixed price contract, at $266,400 over two years, to the Associated Press for newswire services:

The contractor shall provide news and information to the DHS Office of State and Local Government Coordination (OSLGC) to allow coordination, collection and sharing of information concerning state, local, tribal and territorial government and the first responder community. The scope of the work shall include news coverage, subscriptions, and web access.

The contractor shall provide comprehensive global news coverage, specifically news, photos, graphics, audio and video services. The contractor shall provide news and information to OSLGC at the same time as the newspapers. The news coverage reports shall cover all 50 state newswires as they are being distributed to the press agencies. These reports shall cover stories of regional and statewide interest for every state in the nation to include, but not limited to: breaking news, national security issues, world news, national news, news alerts, business news, and regional weather forecasts. In addition, the contractor shall provide a complete monitoring of the Homeland Security news.

In the era of Google News, Yahoo! News, and numerous other free online services to find wire stories in near-real-time, why is DHS spending money to buy this service? This is a complete waste of the taxpayers’ money.

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6 Comments »

Comment by Michael Hampton

September 14, 2006 @ 10:48 am

That’s easy: To get the wire reports in real real-time, rather than the one to four minute delay you get with Google News and the rest.

Comment by Ryan Singel

September 14, 2006 @ 1:44 pm

Christian, just dropped a post on this on 27B, respectfully disagreeing with you. RS

Comment by LawStudent

September 14, 2006 @ 7:55 pm

I’m not one to defend government waste, but I don’t think DHS is totally off base here.

Google News doesn’t carry raw news feeds. It allows you to search material published elsewhere. If AP articles are available on Google News, it’s because some newspaper somewhere published it, and most likely edited it, or cut it down in some way.

DHS–and just about every large news outlet, by the way–wants access to the raw, uncut feed straight from AP. You see news stories that never get picked up in the states, an avalanche of photography (only a small percentage of which ever appears in print or on a news website), retractions, corrections, etc. In short, there’s a lot you can’t get off Google News.

Also, these news feeds typically get a dedicated line. You’re not at the mercy of Yahoo or Google to get access. Imagine if the DHS got cut off from Yahoo News or Google News because of a worm, virus, or Internet outage. Then we’d be screaming that they’re schmucks for not having a more professional setup.

I’m not defending the expense. I think $244k is still pretty steep, but that’s another issue. But I think it’s important to point out that a news aggregator is not at all the same as raw news feeds from a wire service.

Comment by David

September 14, 2006 @ 9:59 pm

Christian:

Your concern would carry more weight with me if you were able to compare this wire service cost to the cost DHS pays for newspaper/magazine subscriptions, cable television fees and news clipping services — none of which are free.

Maybe it is outrageous and maybe it is not. But provide us with some context please.

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