Bill would increase reporting on contractors

A bill recently introduced in the House would require intelligence agencies to disclose more details about their use of private contractors.

The measure, introduced by Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) Feb. 10, would require additional reporting from the director of national intelligence on the intelligence community's use of contractors and require the companies hired to do intelligence work to provide specific information on costs and human resources.

In August, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said that in fiscal 2007, 27 percent of the roughly 137,000 intelligence personnel funded through the National Intelligence Program were private contractors — findings that were said to be consistent with the previous year. ODNI said 22 percent of those contractors worked in enterprise information technology.

Price’s legislation would require ODNI to work with the heads of intelligence agencies to do an annual assessment of each agency’s use of contractors and the costs associated with that work. The agencies would submit those reports to Congress' intelligence committees.

The measure would also require the intelligence director to report to Congress, within 120 days of the bill becoming law, on how contractors are used for intelligence activities such as collection, analysis, covert actions, and electronic or physical surveillance or monitoring of U.S citizens in the United States.

That report would include details about the standards used to judge contractors as compared to government employees and an analysis of the accountability and oversight mechanisms in place. The measure would also prohibit private contractors from participating in activities involving the arrest, interrogation, detention or transfer of people being detained by the United States. However, contractors still would be allowed to help with language interpretation.

The bill also would require companies to give the contracting agency specific information about the contract employees that would be working on a given project. The hired company would also be required to submit cost estimates associated with a job when the contract is awarded.

In a separate action, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), introduced legislation Feb. 11 designed to clarify the rules and authority under which the Government Accountability Office performs audits or evaluations of the intelligence communities programs and activities.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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