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PTC: The “Associated Steel” of CAD Companies

This article on Parametric Technology’s connections to allegedly corrupt lobbying firm PMA Group explains a lot.  Wow.

For two years, the Kansas City Democrat has secured earmarks totaling about $2 million with the aim of supplying a south Kansas City defense plant the latest in design software technology.

What seemed to him an easy chance to bring home some bacon, however, turned into a lesson on why earmarks are so controversial and difficult to follow.

For starters, the local plant he sought to help — the federally owned Honeywell Federal Manufacturing & Technologies Kansas City Plant — never asked for the money, plant officials said.

In fact, most of the public dollars are slated to go to Parametric Technology Corp., a for-profit software developer based 1,200 miles from Cleaver’s district.

“I’d never heard of that company in my life” until recently, said Cleaver, voicing agitation that a lobbying group may have used his appetite for earmarks to its advantage.

In tracing the origins of one little earmark — just a drop in a $7.7 billion bucket of pet projects earmarked in Congress’ recent omnibus spending bill — The Kansas City Star found that a lobbying group working for Massachusetts-based Parametric pushed for the funds.

That lobbyist, known as The PMA Group, is under federal investigation for its dealings with lawmakers. It was a major campaign donor to an Indiana congressman and others who served on the appropriations panel that signed off on Cleaver’s earmark…

Congress tucked into the latest omnibus bill, for the second year running, Cleaver’s submission of MDICE funding for the plant.

An allocation of $951,500 for the 2009 fiscal year was on top of $1 million that the software project secured from Cleaver for fiscal year 2008…

As for the stated merits of MDICE, “it sounds legitimate. … It uses all the right wording,” said Neal Schmeidler, president of Omni Engineering & Technology Inc. of McLean, Va.

Schmeidler reviewed the MDICE application at The Star’s request. He is an industrial engineering consultant specializing in defense procurements.

“One of my questions is, why not compete this thing out in the open market?” Schmeidler asked.

“Why do it with a special earmark where only one firm can get the money? And who’s going to check if the system even works in the end? … It seems a little odd.”

One reads this and wonders whatever happened to Chuck Grassley’s probe into NASA’s flawed awarding of a software contract to PTC back in 2005.

Welcome to the ‘aristocracy of pull’.  I guess if you can’t compete in the open market, you can always call in favors.

1 comment to PTC: The “Associated Steel” of CAD Companies

  • Yeah, I’m not a huge fan of PTC either. There’s a reason why we dumped them for Solidworks years ago (and it wasn’t just that Solidworks was a lot easier to use and a lot cheaper).