A Very Real Issue

June 10, 2013 7:22 p.m.

The Post has a good piece, just a show-opener really, on a critical issue raised by the Snowden imbroglio – the massive waste, private sector enrichment or shoddy work that has resulted from the Intelligence Community’s massive reliance on private contractors like Booz Allen Hamilton and many others.

Never before have so many U.S. intelligence workers been hired so quickly, or been given access to secret government information through networked computers. In recent years, about one in four intelligence workers has been a contractor, and 70 percent or more of the intelligence community’s secret budget has gone to private firms.

Most of the work went to the largest contractors, including Booz Allen Hamilton, which had $5.8 billion in revenue last year. Almost all of Booz Allen’s work was for the government, and nearly a quarter of that was for intelligence agencies.

The problem isn’t unique to the intelligence agencies. It’s government wide and it’s part of a push that goes back to the first Bush and Clinton administrations. But it’s in the intel world where we’ve had massive growth in a short period of time. And the secrecy that is inherent to intelligence work makes fraud much easier to get away with. Remember, this was at the heart of the Duke Cunningham scandal. The almost comical level of fraud and bribery was hard for anybody to find because it was all classified.

At one level, this just siphons off vast amounts of tax payer dollars into private hands. But it’s not just that. It’s also led to much poorer security. As in so many cases of government outsourcing its very hard to come up with arguments for why the practice saves money or provides more quality. At the end of the day it’s a self-perpetuating form of private enrichment.

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