Following the first installment in the Washington Post’s investigative series, “Top Secret America”, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a statement yesterday clarifying the relationship between the intelligence community and contractors.
ODNI dispelled several common “myths” surrounding IC’s relationship with contractors in the document. Of the misconceptions, contract budgets, federal oversight of the private sector, “inherently governmental” functions and cost of contractors were addressed and clarified.
In regards to the IC budget, the document explained that 70 percent is spent on contracts as opposed to contractors. “Those contracts cover major acquisitions such as satellites and computer systems, as well as commercial activities such as rent, food service, and facilities maintenance and security,” the document said.
ODNI clarified the oversight of the contractor community by referring to the annual inventory of core contract personnel, which instituted in 2006. The inventory led to intelligence policy directive 612, according to ODNI, which reinforces the prohibition on the use of contract personnel to perform inherently governmental activities, prescribes the circumstances in which contract personnel may be used to support IC missions and functions and, beginning in Fiscal Year 2011, requires IC elements to plan for and project the number of contract personnel they require, as part of their strategic workforce plans.
In regards to the myth that private contractors are inappropriately performing “inherently governmental” functions, ODNI stated that IC does not condone or permit contract personnel to perform inherently governmental intelligence work, but contractors may perform actions like collection and analysis.
Addressing the costs of contractors, ODNI explained that the average high costs of contractors save in the long-term by the nature of short-term work, commercial availability and unique expertise for immediate needs. Contractors allow for IC to expand when necessary and quickly shift resources when needed.