My task is to move this data set into PostgreSQL/PostGIS, but since I don't have the necessary SDE libraries on the system, I can't even compile ogr2ogr to accomplish this. This really is a vendor problem, specifically an ESRI problem. If I was handed a Oracle export file, I can easily move this data by compiling ogr2ogr because Oracle provides the necessary libraries in its client SDK, which is available by download.
Ironically, the purpose of this exercise to make this data more easily available. However, I can't make it past first base because I'm hamstrung by the data format. This is such a 90's problem. Although shape files are the defacto lingua franca for geospatial data, the format has its limitations, namely a 2GB limit for dbf files. It was unusual for a data set to be larger than 1GB in the 90's; but 20 years later, data sets over 2GB are not uncommon. The current Federal procurement language should be amended to mandate that geospatial software produce entire data sets that are in an open and accessible format.