Percentage of intell contractors stays level

In fiscal 2007, 27 percent of the intelligence personnel funded through the National Intelligence Program were private contractors, according to an intelligence community inventory.

That percentage of the estimated 137,000 members of the community was revealed during an inventory of the workforces at the 16 federal intelligence agencies discussed today by Ronald Sanders, chief human capital officer at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

The community conducted a similar study in fiscal 2006 that found roughly the same percentage of employees to be contractors, he said.

Sanders said the decision to conduct annual surveys was based on concerns expressed by Congress and ODNI and a desire to define the role and extent of contracting in the intelligence community.

Despite the findings, he said the intelligence community is not overly reliant on contractors.

“Based on two data points, we do not — repeat, do not — believe we are over-reliant on contractor personnel to accomplish our mission,” he said.

The survey examined the core contract employees who augment the military and civilian members of the intelligence community, not the people hired to build a specific product or provide commercial services.

Although it is not clear what the percentages were before fiscal 2006, Sanders said the intelligence community used contractors to expand its capabilities rapidly after the terrorist attacks in 2001.

“The inventory helps us know not only the aggregate across the community, but agency by agency,” he said. “Our agencies have to explain to us and we, in turn, have to explain to Congress and OMB whether we have the right mix in that total force.”

Sanders said the survey revealed that most contractors were among the intelligence community's military and civilian employees.

Specifically, 27 percent support collection and operations, 22 percent work in enterprise information technology, 19 percent support analysis production, 19 percent perform administrative support, and 4 percent are in mission management.

When asked why they chose contractors rather than government employees, intelligence agencies had the following responses: 56 percent said the contractors had unique expertise, 11 percent said they would have hired government employees if they had had more funding, 10 percent said contractors were more cost-effective, 8 percent said they used contractors because of funding uncertainties, 5 percent cited the need to rapidly increase staffing levels, and 3 percent cited non-recurring projects.

Sanders said that since the fiscal 2007 survey was recorded, agencies had been exercising more flexibility in hiring intelligence officers as government employees.
 

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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