Contractors account for a quarter of U.S. spy operations


Greg Miller
Los Angeles Times
September 1, 2008

WASHINGTON — Private contractors account for more than one-quarter of the core workforce at U.S. intelligence agencies, according to newly released government figures that underscore how much of the nation’s spying work has been outsourced since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The CIA and other spy agencies employ about 36,000 contractors in espionage-related jobs, in addition to approximately 100,000 full-time government workers, said Ronald Sanders, head of personnel for the U.S. intelligence community.

Contractors carry out missions including collecting intelligence in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as operating classified computer networks for the 16 spy agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community.

Sanders said the number of contractors remained steady over the last year, after surging in the years following the Sept. 11 attacks.

“As you may know, we’ve been hiring a great deal since Sept. 11, 2001,” Sanders said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday, discussing the results of a survey.

The growing reliance on contractors has been a source of controversy for the spy agencies, in part because of concerns that temporary employees might not be as trustworthy as career workers in handling some of the most sensitive national security work.

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