Leaks Prompt Scrutiny of Role of Government Contractors

Susan Hall

There could be a lot fewer data-sifting jobs at government contractors such as Booz Allen Hamilton, depending on how the leaks about National Security Agency surveillance programs by Edward Snowden play out.

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But, for now, as Vanity Fair puts it: “Job Opening at Booz Allen Hamilton!” Yes, it is a public relations nightmare for that particular employer, as The Daily Beast points out.

Snowden, described as “either very, very brave or very, very silly, depending on whom you ask,” by my colleague Loraine Lawson, was fired from his $122,000-a-year job "for violations of the firm's code of ethics and firm policy."

But Joseph Augustyn, a former senior CIA official and principal at Booz Allen Hamilton, told The Associated Press the leak could prompt the nation’s intelligence agencies to rethink the role of defense contractors. That article describes an incredibly incestuous relationship between the "green badgers" (contractors) and the "blue badgers," the color of the ID tags worn by government employees.

It says that the 4.9 million people with clearance to access “confidential and secret” government information, 1.1 million, or 21 percent, work for outside firms. And 34 percent of the 1.4 million with “top secret” access work for contractors. Snowden was among those with the highest-level clearance, according to The Atlantic Wire.

A Nextgov post delves into whether the insider threat is greater than that of outside hackers, but you can bet that after this, a lot of organizations will be reviewing their access policies and permissions.

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