Obtaining Copies of Government Contracts

By Carlton Purvis, Published May 27, 2013, 12:00am EDT (Info+)

Contracts for US public schools, airports, city, state and military security systems can typically be obtained. This can be extremely useful if you want to understand what was selected or who 'won' a project (see our reporting on contracts in Pennsylvania, Dallas and Miami). However, the process of doing so is not well known. In this tutorial, we explain the step by step process of how you can do this efficiently, quickly and without any fees.

Background

********** ** *********** *** (****), ******* *** ******* ** ******* public *******. ***** *** ** ********* ** *** US ******* ****** *** *** ****** must ******* *** ********* ****** **** do *** ***** ** *** ********* under *** ****** **********. ********, ***** *** ***** *********** (*** the **** ** ***** **** [**** no ****** *********]) **** ***** *** ****** records **** **** ****, *** *** have *** ********* *** ********:

  • * *** **** ** ***** *** agency **** ******* (**** ***** ******* to **** *******, *** ******* *** documents).
  • **** ********* ** ********** (*** **** common ** **** **** *** ********** for ********* **** *** **** ** an ******* *************, ********* **** ******* national ******** ********* *********** *** ********* files).
  • ** ******* ** *** ******* ******* (If **** ******* ** ******** *** you **** *** *********** ****** ** public, *** *** ******). 
  • *** ****** ** **** *** ********* available *** ********** ******* ** (** prior **) ********* ******
  • *** **** *** ******** *** ********* the *********. 

** ********** *** *** *******, *** process ** ****** ******** ** ** 'FOIA' (*** **** ******* *** ***** requests).

Getting ***** *******

** ******** **** ******* ** ******** ************ *** ***** ******* ******* **** ******** * large ******** ** *******, ***** *** local ********, **** * ****** ********* that **** *** ****** ******** *** send **** ***** **** *** *******. ** the ****** **** ***** ******** ** mail, *** *** ** *** *********** and************* ** *** ***. *** *** also *** ** ** ***** **** correspondence **** *** ****** *** *** where **** ******* ** ***** *** process *** ** ****** ***** ******** and ********* **** **** **** ******** government ********.

*** ******* *** **** ** *** past, *** *** *** ****** ***** [link ** ****** *********] ***** ** the ****** ** ********** *** ***** you **** ** *****. *** *** pay $** ** **** * ******** or **** ** ******** *** ***** for $** (***** *** ****** ****, the ******** ** *** **** **** to *** **** *****). 

**** ** **** **** **** *** submit***** *******, **** ******* ****** ****** too. ** *********** ******* ***** **** a ******* *** *** **** *****. *********** sometimes ** **** ** ***** **** organizations ** *** **** **** *** be ******* **, *** ********** ***** do ** ** **** ***** ** competitors. ** ****, * ***** ********* attorney **** **** ** **** **** requests ** *** **** **** *** media, *** **** ********** ******** ** other **********.   

*** ***** **** ** ******** * profile. Once *** **** * *******, *** can **** * ******* ** * government ****** ** ***** ***** *****:

(*)

 

(*)

(*)

**** *** ****, *** *** *** the ****** ** *** ** **** requests ** **** *******, *** ******** here's ** ******* **** ****: 

Tips ****** *** ****

********** *** ****** ** *** **** part. *** ** **** ****** **** some ******** ****** *** *** ***** to ******** ****. **** *** **** tips ** **** ** ** ****** you ****:

Know ** *** ****** *** * ******** **** ** ****** ******* ******. The process takes time so getting it to the right person the first time will cut days or weeks off your response. If the agency does not have a designated office, then send it to the city or state's official address c/o whatever office would have the record (procurement, accounting, housing, etc.). All federal agencies have a designated FOIA contact. 

** *** ****, ******* *** **** to *** *****'* ****** ******* ** the ********** ******* ******** ******** ** a *********. *** ******** * *** requesting *** * **** ******** (*** mayor's ******* ******), *** ******* *** city *** * ********** ******* ******, the "******" *** *********** *** ******* office *** *** *****'*.

Make **** ******* ******** *** **** *** ******** *** *** **********. The more detailed you can be, the better. ** *** **** * ******* ** RFP ******, *** **. ** *** **** *** **** of *** ********, ******* **** ***. Anything ** **** *** ******* ******** find * ******** **** **** *** response **** ****** *** **** ** less ****** *** **** ******* ** be ******** *** ***** ** *****. 

**** ****** ******* **** ***a ******** **** **** *** ***** **** *** **** ** ** ******* to fulfill a records request. For example, a request for a bidding summary may get rejected or marked "no responsive documents" if the agency does not compile the bids that way. In that case, you can request each bid individually. 

Look ** **** ******* *******.***** ********* ******** **** ** ******** by **** ******* *** ********* ********* to**** ******* ****** **** ** *** public ******. ** **** ******, ******* proposals *** ********* **** ** ******** by *******. *** *** **** *** documents ** *** ******* ** *** the ******* ** **** *** ***** official **** ** *** *** ******* them *****.Some ******** **** ****** ******** ** *** ********* *** ********* ****** (even if they are extremely difficult to find). Copies of many federal contracts are available online at **********

Response ****

******** **** (**** *** ******** ******* the *********) ******. ******* ******** *** the ******* ** *******. * **** journalists ******* ********* **** *** *** requests **** ***** ***** ** **** years ***. ** * ***** ** local *****, ** ** **********, *** response **** ** ******* ******* **-** days. ***** *** ********* ********. *** larger, **** ******* ********, ** ** obviously ***** ** **** ****** ** get **** ****. *** ******** ******* with ********-******* ***********, ** **** ***** the ****** *** ** ****** *** document ****-**-**** ** ****** "*********" ***********. Redactions *** *** * *** ** time **** *** *******, *** **** will ********* *** *** **** **** that ** *** ****** *** *** delay. ** **** ** ***** **** local **** ** *** ** ***** is * ******** ******** **** *** use **** *** ******** ** *** process ** ****** *** ****. 

****

**** **** ****** **** ****** ** agency. **** ****** ** *** **** for ********, **** ****** *** ***** of *****, **** ****** *** **** ** look ** **** ******* ********* ******, some ** *** ****** ** ***. * have **** ****** **** **** $*,*** for * **** ******** **** * *********** ** research **** *** ******, *** **** requests have been ********* *** ****. **** ** how ** ***** **** ****:

  • ** *** **** * ***** *******, consider ******** ** **** ******** ********. Some ******** ** *** ****** *** less **** *** ***** ** ******** per *******. ******* ** ******* * single ******* *** **** ********* ****, send **** ********* ********, *** *** each ***. ******** **** ***** *** time ** ***** ** ***** ******** will ********** **** ******* ** **** get ***** ******* **** ****. ******** that ** *** *** **** ******** will **** **.  
  • *** *** ****** ** ******* *** with ** ********. **** *** ******* to *** *** **** ***** ** time **** **** ******** *** **** will **. ********* *** *** ********* that ****. 
  • ** **** *****, *** *** ******* the ****** *** **** *** ******* the *******, ******* **** ** ********** or *******. ******* ** ****** *******, whether ** * ** ** *** email. **** ******* ** *** ** to ** ****** **** * **** scanner *** **** **** ********. 
  • **** *** ********* ********* ** *** public. **** ********, ********* *** ** the ******* **********, **** * *** exemption *** ********* ***'* ******* ***** be ** *** ****** ******** ** made ******** *********. *************, *** ********* *** **** ******** available ** * ******* ******** ** public *******. **** ** ****, **** waiver *** *** **** ** **** are ****** *** ********** ** ********* ***** ********.

Other *****

***** ****** **** ****** ********** *** scattered ****** *** ********, *** * have *** ***** *** **** ** large * ******** ** ******** ** the ************* ** ********. **** ******* **** ***:

*** ******* ***** *** ****** (****). **** ** ******* *** ** the ****** **** ******* ********** ** *** ********. **** *** ** good *** ** *** *** **** requesting *** *** ** ********* *** do *** **** ** ** *** serious ********. ***** **** *********** *** the *********** *** *** *******, ***** out *** ****** *** **** ** to *** ******* ******.

**** ******* ** * ******* ****, ****** ** the ****** ********** **** **** ******** went ******.

Need **** ******* * ********

**** *** ** **** ** *** comments ** ***** ******* (*******@****.***)*** ** *** ******.

Comments (1)

carlton i always appreciate your articles... journalism is alive and well in you... it is very helpful understanding the process and how it can benefit companies... i haven't had to flex the foia yet but i have requested competitors bids on public jobs and have received them... it is great information to obtain... thank you...

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