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First FOIA Response on SF-LLLs

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A brief, puzzling update (below the fold) on my attempts to get my hands on actual forms SF-LLL, which government contractors or grantees must file when they make a payment or agree to pay "any lobbying entity for influencing or attempting to influence an officer or employee of any agency, a Member of Congress, an officer or employee of Congress, or an employee of a Member of Congress in connection with a covered Federal action," with the latter phrase referring to any contract, grant, cooperative agreement, loan, loan guarantee or loan insurance worth more than $100,000. A reminder: The hope here is that if we can get enough forms SF-LLL, we can start to distinguish between those contracts awarded through the normal procurement process, and those awarded after lobbyists went outside the normal procurement process to influence members of Congress or administration officials. If we can get a complete set of all forms SF-LLL filed with the government, we might be able to build a database from that information, linking it with or incorporating it into sites like FedSpending.org, which tracks government contracts and spending, or OpenSecrets.org, which tracks political influence.

Now, for the update: I got an answer to a Freedom of Information Act request I filed on Feb. 5, 2007, with Hanscom Air Force Base requesting any forms SF-LLL filed by or on behalf of a company, ProLogic, in connection with this award:

ProLogic Inc., Fairmont, W.Va., was awarded on 19 December 2005, a $7,090,838 cost plus fixed fee contract to research how the best to gather required medical data from medical encounters, analyze it, and make to available to users in support of medical planning and operations using a Net-Centric approach identified as MED-STARS. At this time $2,208,000 has been obligated. This work will be complete by October 2008. Solicitations began January 2005 and negotiations were completed in August 2005. The Headquarters Electronic Systems Center, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., is the contracting activity. (FA8726-06-C-0005).

The response reads as follows:

1. This is in reference to your FOIA request, dated 5 February, for any and all forms SF-LLL. 2. We do not maintain these forms; therefore, we have no records to give you. 3. If you decide to appeal this response, please write to the Secretary of the Air Force within 60 days from the date of this response, and include your reasons for appeal. Attach a copy of this response and address your letter to: Secretary of the Air Force THRU: 66 MSG/SCSF 63 Grenier Street Hanscom AFB, MA 01731-2303

Line #2 strikes me as being oddly worded. I can understand if they don't have any forms because ProLogic didn't lobby on that particular contract, and didn't file the form. Then the response should be that, after searching their files, there are no "responsive documents," or some such. But what does it mean that they don't maintain the forms? Does that mean they get them but send them somewhere else? Throw them out? That if they're offered them, they refuse to take them? Rather than immediately file an appeal, I emailed back asking for clarification of item 2 of the response.

For the record, here is the portion of the Code of Regulations (32 CFR 28 for those keeping score at home) that requires "persons" (defined below as "an individual, corporation, company, association, authority, firm, partnership, society, State, and local government, regardless of whether such entity is operated for profit or not for profit") "requesting or receiving" a contract, grant, loan and so on, to file form SF-LLL (shown in appendix B).