Dirt Diggers Digest No. 64
November 10, 2005

Editor: Philip Mattera

1. Watchdog groups are tracking Katrina contracts
2. Over 2,000 companies named in final Volcker report
3. EWG greatly expands database on chemicals in cosmetics
4. Federal Procurement Data System still under fire
5. White paper dissects revolving door in the federal government
6. EPA seeks to weaken TRI reporting requirements
7. LexisNexis introduces corporate-crime monitoring service
8. New a la carte source for small-company profiles
9. New online corporate research guide
10. Research and campaign job announcements [omitted from web archive]

1. Watchdog groups are tracking Katrina contracts

A variety of policy watchdog organizations are tracking the
flood of contracts being awarded by the federal government for
clean-up work in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Taxpayers for
Common Sense has been assembling a compilation of  contracts,
along with basic information on the contractor and a summary of
its lobbying activities and federal PAC contributions. See

The Project on Government Oversight has created a Katrina page
< http://www.pogo.org/p/x/2005katrina.html > that includes a contract
list, examples of wasteful spending and links to key articles and press
releases. The Center for Public Integrity has a similar page at

2. Over 2,000 companies named in final Volcker report

More than 2,000 companies, including industrial giants such as Siemens
and DaimlerChrysler, were named in the final report of the Independent
Inquiry Committee on the United Nations Oil-for-Food Programme, which
is headed by Paul Volcker. The 623-page report accused the companies
of helping the former regime of Saddam Hussein divert some $1.8 billion
from the program, which was supposed to allow humanitarian supplies
to reach the Iraqi people during the period of UN-endorsed economic
sanctions. The full text of the report and the accompanying data tables
are at: http://www.iic-offp.org/story27oct05.htm

3. EWG greatly expands database on chemicals in cosmetics

The Environmental Working Group has greatly expanded its database on
the safety of chemicals in cosmetics and other personal-care items so
that more than 14,000 products are now included. The database, called
Skin Deep, is meant to fill an information gap left by industry and
government. EWG says that 90% of the ingredients in the products
it has analyzed haven't been screened for safety by federal regulators.
Skin Deep can be found at: http://www.ewg.org/reports/skindeep2/

4. Federal Procurement Data System still under fire

The Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation--the overhauled
database of federal government contracts--continues to attract criticism.
A recent report by the Government Accountability Office
< http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05960r.pdf > raised questions about
the timeliness and accuracy of data, ease of use of the system and the
inclusion of data on interagency contracting. Meanwhile, Global Computer
Enterprises, the contractor that developed the new system and retains
ownership of it, has announced that the General Services Administration
has extended its contract.

5. White paper dissects revolving door in the federal government

A new white paper called A Matter of Trust examines the various forms of
the revolving door in the federal government and makes recommendations
for addressing the disproportionate influence of corporate America over
federal policymaking brought about by the movement of key individuals
back and forth between the public and the private sectors. The report was
produced by the Revolving Door Working Group, a coalition of groups such
as Public Citizen, Project On Government Oversight, Common Cause and
more than a dozen others. Dirt Diggers editor Phil Mattera wrote the chapter
on the industry-to-government form of the revolving door. The full text of the
report and information on the Working Group are at www.revolvingdoor.info.

6. EPA seeks to weaken TRI reporting requirements

The Environmental Protection Agency recently issued proposals for
modifications in the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) progam that have
raised serious concern among environmentalists and public-health advocates.
The EPA wants to allow companies to report their emissions every other
year rather than the current annual schedule. The threshold at which the
reporting requirement kicks in would rise tenfold to 5,000 pounds, and
facilities would be allowed to withhold information on low-level production
of persistent bioaccumulative toxins, including lead and mercury, which are
considered dangerous even in very small quantitites. The EPA proposal is at:
For more on the OMB Watch response to the proposal, see

A recent posting by OMB Watch describes specific instances in which TRI
data have been central to public-health initiatives by government agencies
and non-profits (see http://www.ombwatch.org/article/articleview/3156/1/1?TopicID=1 ).

7. LexisNexis introduces corporate-crime monitoring service

LexisNexis continues to repackage its vast archive to serve specialized corporate
needs. Recently, it announced  a new service called Negative News, which
according to a press release ( http://www.lexisnexis.com/about/releases/0836.asp )
"enables users to find out important information about an individual or organization
that might not be readily available through regular public records searches. Users only
need to input the name of a person or business, and Negative News automatically
builds a powerful search that identifies articles in which the name of the person or
business appears in close proximity to mentions of criminal acts, bankruptcies or
illicit behavior. Examples of terms that Negative News looks for in the text of articles
include 'bribe,' 'drug,' 'felony,' 'misconduct,' 'negligence,' and 'theft.' " The price of the
service was not announced, but given the ongoing wave of corporate corruption,
this product would seem to have a promising future.

8. New a la carte source for small-company profiles

LexisNexis recently introduced another product aimed at users without deep
pockets. Accurint Business < https://www.accurintbusiness.com/ > makes
available basic information about a universe of more than 25 million small and
medium businesses at prices ranging from $2 to $4 a pop, charged to a credit
card. The data include items such as addresses, state corporate records and
bankruptcy, UCC and tax lien filings. The $4 report includes basic D&B content
such as number of employees and estimated sales. The service draws from the
content assembled by Accurint, a public records vendor bought by LexisNexis in 2004.

9. New online corporate research guide

Dirt Diggers Digest editor Phil Mattera, wearing his other hat as head of the
Corporate Research Project, has just posted a new guide to doing corporate
research online. The 23-page document, which replaces a much shorter guide,
focuses on ways to gather intelligence on any corporation's key relationships
and on its social (ir)responsibility record. The guide can be found at

A cumulative index of sources (with links) mentioned in
issues of the Dirt Diggers Digest can be found at:

Philip Mattera
Research Director of Good Jobs First &
Director of the Corporate Research Project
Washington, DC
(202) 232-1616 ext. 212   (NEW PHONE NUMBER)