Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Uncle Sam shells out big bucks for humor targeting enemy nations

Cartoon by Gustavo Rodríguez, a.k.a. Garrincha
Uncle Sam could use a good laugh - and he's willing to pay for it.
The U.S. government-financed Broadcasting Board of Governors on Tuesday announced that it's looking to hire an Iranian-American comedian.
The job announcement described the position requirements in humorless bureaucratic fashion, saying the BBG is looking for a comedian capable of providing "the greatest overall benefit in response to the requirement," a vague requirement that isn't described in detail.
The BBG doesn't say it's looking for the funniest Iranian-American comedian around (check out Maz Jobrani). Instead, the agency says it'll hire the comedian "whose offer provides the Government with a best value solution."
The BBG's quest to find an Iranian-American comedian got me wondering how many U.S. tax dollars have gone toward making fun of the Castro brothers and the Cuban government. I would not be surprised to learn that taxpayers have unwitting spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for such work.
Of course, countless Cubans and Cuban-Americans lampoon the socialist government every day - and they do it for free.
U.S. officials are willing to pay for this kind of material and evidently see skewering enemy governments as great way to stir up trouble.

In 2010, the U.S. Agency for International Development funneled money to Alen Lauzán Falcón, a Cuban satiric artist living in Chile. He was hired to write messages for a secret program called ZunZuneo, a social network for Cubans, the Associated Press reported. The AP quoted him as saying he didn't regret taking part, although he didn't know he was writing messages for a U.S. government-financed program.
I couldn't find any records showing how much Lauzán Falcón earned. Records show that USAID had agreed to pay a ZunZuneo honchos, Joe McSpedon, as much as $441,332.28, but the program was ended and he wound up getting just $144.319.25.
See interactive graphic of BBG contracts
BBG contracts are easier to track down. The agency has paid artists, writers, performers and journalists at least $76,492,919.83 since 1983.
No doubt, a sizable chunk of that money has gone toward comedians and satirists who take aim at the Cuban government and the Castro brothers.
TV Martí has broadcast satirical programs for years. One was called "La Oficina del Jefe." The program "derives its humor from the current political situation in Cuba. Six characters are placed on a fictional island with comedy situations that refer to the present regime."
Another was "Bonco en Miami," touted as a "satire program hosted by a renowned comedian who uses his personal experience to convey the life of a recently arrived young person in the United States. Combined with music and entertainment, this program is aimed to young audiences."
These descriptions are from a sensitive but unclassified June 2007 Office of Inspector General report on the Office of Cuba Broadcasting.
Nowadays, Facebook, YouTube and other sites are full of spoofs, satires and comedy sketches targeting Cuba. It's difficult to know how much of the material was financed by the U.S. government, but records provide a few clues to some of the payments.
The BBG, for instance, has paid $30,521 to the popular cartoonist Gustavo Rodríguez, a.k.a., Garrincha.
Cartoon by Gustavo Rodríguez, also known as Garincha
The agency has also paid the talented comedic duo Miguel "El Flaco" Gonzalez and Gilberto Reyes at least $36,100, according to contracts listed under several variations of their company name, El Mikimbin Corp.
Screenshot from YouTube video
There are more examples buried in this interactive list of artists, performers and writers. For another view, see this bubble graphic.
Or, if you'd like to learn more about the job opening for an Iranian-American comedian, see excerpts of the barely intelligible, joke-free announcement below:

Solicitation Number:
Notice Type:
Combined Synopsis/Solicitation
Added: May 26, 2015 10:59 am

Agency/Office: Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), Office of Contracts (CON)



(i) This is a combined synopsis/solicitation for commercial items prepared in accordance with FAR Subpart 12.6 and Subpart 13 as supplemented with additional information included in this notice. This announcement constitutes the only solicitation; Request For Quotes (hereinafter RFQ) are being solicited and a written solicitation will not be issued.

(ii) This solicitation is issued as a RFQ

Under solicitation number BBG50-Q-15-00013, for Non-Personnel Service. The award will be made using Simplified Acquisition Procedures in accordance with FAR Part 13.

(iii) This RFQ incorporates provisions and clauses of those in effect through Federal Acquisition Circular 2005-82, Effective 07 May 2015. The results of this requirement will be a firm fixed priced (FFP) Purchase Order with a Base Term and option for increased quantity.

(iv)This procurement is being issued as a 100% small business set-aside. The North American Industry Classification Systems (NAICS) code for this acquisition is 711510, with a small business size standard of $7.0 M.

v. There will be one Contract Line item (CLIN) for twelve (12) episodes (per year with no guaranteed minimum quantities purchased beyond the Base Year.

(vi) The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), Office of Contracts (CON) located in Washington, D.C. anticipates awarding one Non-Personal Services Purchase Order as described in the attached RFQ/Statement of Work (SOW) for user rights (i.e. satellite rights, broadcast rights, reproduction rights, educational/screening rights, excerpting rights, abridgement rights; and one copy of the music sheet, if any, at no additional cost) for Voice of America, Persian News Network Division, located at 330 Independence Avenue, Cohen Building - Room 1460, SW Washington, DC 20237.

(vii) A Firm Fixed Price (FFP) Purchase Order (PO) will be awarded for the Base Term of one (1) year beginning July 1, 2015 to August 30, 2016

(viii) Instructions to Offerors - Commercial FAR clause applies to this acquisition

(ix) The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) provision FAR 52.212-1 Instruction to Offerers-Commercial Items, applies to this RFQ.

FAR provisions and clauses may be obtained from the Internet Web address at:

It is the responsibility of the Vendor to be familiar with the applicable clauses and provisions.

The clauses may be accessed in full text at these addresses: and

(x) All offers shall include a completed copy of the provision at 52.212-3, Offeror Representations and Certifications-Commercial Items.

(xi) FAR clause 52.212-4, Contract Terms and Conditions and any addenda applies to this acquisition.

(xii) FAR clause 52.212-5 Contract Terms and Conditions Required to Implement Statutes or Executive Orders-Commercial items applies to this acquisition.

(xiii) FAR clause 52.217-7 Option for Increased Quantity-Separately Priced Line Item applies to this acquisition.

(xiv) FAR clause 52.227-17 Rights in Data-Special Works applies to this acquisitions.

(xv) Quote Submission:

Interested independent Contractor(s)/Vendor(s), who are capable of providing these services, should submit an offer which identifies your capabilities as noted below. The Contractor shall demonstrate the ability and experience in providing the required services.

•(a) Submission of offer:

Submit a signed and dated offer to the office specified in this RFQ at or before the exact closing time. At a minimum, offers must show:

•(1) A cover page that includes the name, physical and email addresses, and telephone number of the Offeror; the RFQ number; DUNS number and Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) code; or NATO Cage Code (NCAGE) number on your quote; Submittal time which should be before or at the time specified in the RFQ


If you do not have a DUNS, CAGE, or NCAGE, first register for DUNS at Next, register for NCAGE or CAGE at the instructions for US based organizations will take you to Please select "Emergency" for Block 5 "PRIORITY/PRIORITE";

(2) A CD with samples of Comedy sketches

(3) Offerors shall limit their response to six (6) or less pages.

Pages shall include:

•(a) Technical: (Resume/Curriculum Vitae) no more than two (2) pages

•1. Should evidence the Offeror's pertinent past performance

(b) Past Performance no more than three (3) pages.

1. Should include at least three (3) recent and relevant contracts for the same or similar items and other references with relevant information (i.e. dates, locations, Points of Contact information, contract numbers, scope of work etc.) to make any inquiry/validation a quick and easy process.

(c) Pricing on a page by itself no more than one (1) page

•1. Quote that states the Offerors's proposed fixed price.

•2. Price(s) for all of the Contract Line Item Number (CLIN) shall be in the English language and in United States Dollars (USD)

(4) Prices for listed CLIN(s) shall be in the English language and in USD.

(5) Acknowledgment of receipt of Amendments to Request for Quote (if applicable);

(6) Period for acceptance of offers. The Offeror agrees to hold the prices in its offer firm for one hundred and fifty (150) calendar days from the date specified for receipt of offers, unless another time period is specified in an addendum to the solicitation.

(7) In the event Offerors did not complete the responsibility and certification portion of the SAM registration they shall include completed copy of the provision at FAR Subpart 52.212-3 (Offeror Representations and Certifications - Commercial Items) with their offer. This provision can be found at the following website; if requested by an Offeror, a copy of FAR subpart 52.212-3 will be provided by the Contracting Officer.


(Evaluation Factors are used to determine the competitive ranking of qualified Offerors in comparison to other Offerors. The factors are listed in priority order from highest to lowest).

The Government will award a Commercial Items, Firm-Fixed-Price, Non-Personal services Purchase Order with Option for increased quantity (subject to the availability of funds) resulting from this RFQ to the responsible Offeror whose offer conforming to the RFQ will be most advantageous to the Government, based on :

The evaluation factors that will be used to determine award will be (1) technical capability, to include a resume that meets the qualifications listed in the Statement of Work (SOW) Requirements paragraph, (2) past performance, and (3) price. For past performance Vendors shall provide at least two-three (2-3) relevant past performance references with the quote(s). Reference information shall include agency or business name, contract number, dollar amount, point of contact (include phone number and email address), for which your company has provided the same or similar relevant services. Firms without a record of relevant past performance shall affirmatively state that no relevant past performance is available. Such firms will receive a neutral rating that will be evaluated neither positively nor negatively. Relevant past performance is defined as performance of contracts of similar size, scope, and complexity as this requirement performed within the past three (3) years. The Government reserves the right to obtain and use past performance information from sources other than those listed in the quote, to include prior dealing with the government and personal knowledge of the company. All evaluation factors other than price, when combined, will be evaluated as significantly more important than price.

Technical ability includes work experience, education, specialized training, price, and past performance.

Basis for Award:

The procurement is being conducted under FAR Subpart 13.

Best value is defined as the expected outcome of an acquisition that, in the Government's estimation, provides the greatest overall benefit in response to the requirement, in accordance with FAR 2.101.

The Government reserves the right to make a selection based upon the initial quote submissions so the Offeror should submit its best terms in the initial quote. The Government may also determine to make no award.

A single vendor/contractor will be selected who is deemed responsible in accordance with FAR 9.104-1 and whose offer provides the Government with a best value solution.

All questions regarding this RFQ should be submitted by email to and are due by June 17, 2015 Eastern Standard Time (EST) at 3:00 p.m.

Responses to questions will be provided no later than June 20, 2015.

Primary Point of Contact:

Name: Althea A. Paul

Title: Contract Specialist (Contractor)

Address: Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG)

330 Independence Avenue, S.W.

Cohen Building, Room 4360-0025

Washington, DC 20237

Phone: (202) 382-8040


Final Offers and electronic work-sample should be emailed to:

Name: Adrienne R. Washington

Title: Contract Specialist


CD with comedy sketches should be sent by courier by due date and time to:

Adrienne R. Washington, Contract Specialist

Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG)

Office of Contracts

330 Independence Avenue, S.W.

Cohen Bldg. Rm. 4630-0024

Washington, D.C. 20237

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