Policy & Strategy

Report: Intelligence community can’t keep track of its contractors

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) is unable to account for “core” intelligence contractors and their work, according to a group of senators who released a government report on Thursday. 

The office lacks “reliable data on the number and type” of intelligence contractors it has, and the expenses associated with them, said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) of the report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. 

{mosads}Senators called upon the ODNI to improve its records keeping in light of leaks on U.S. intelligence collection programs last year by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, which officials have called one of the most damaging in history. 

“In the wake Edward Snowden’s damaging leaks of classified information, the intelligence community must demonstrate that it can rigorously vet, hire, manage, and oversee the contractor workforce it relies upon to help perform its mission,” Collins said in a statement. 

The lack of reliable data and long-term planning for intelligence contractor support has led to “critical gaps in our capabilities” and an over-reliance on contractors, said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), chairwoman of the subcommittee on financial and contracting oversight. 

“This is likely a waste of taxpayer dollars and may be detrimental to our national security,” she added. 

Across the intelligence agencies that the ODNI oversees, the definition of “core” contractors had changed over the years, and the agencies used different methods of tracking numbers, costs and functions, resulting in data that was inaccurate and inconsistent, the report found. 

Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) said he was “troubled” that ODNI’s reporting standards were not effective at providing accurate information about civilian intelligence contractors. 

“The men and women who work at our nation’s intelligence agencies, whether federal employee or contractor, are entrusted with analyzing and protecting our most sensitive information,” said Chairman Carper. 

“Given the nature of their work and all that’s at stake, it’s critical that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) is able to account for core intelligence contractors and provide that information to Congress so we know exactly who is managing our nation’s secrets and why.” 

The report was released by Carper, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Collins, McCaskill and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), and can be found here.

Tags CIA Claire McCaskill Director of National Intelligence Edward Snowden Intelligence intelligence contractors Ron Johnson Susan Collins Tom Carper Tom Coburn
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