Managing Intelligence Contractors

10.10.07 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

For better or worse, contractors are now an indispensable part of the U.S. intelligence workforce, and greater attention is needed to manage them effectively, argues a recent study by a military intelligence analyst (pdf).

The author presents criteria for evaluating contractor support to various intelligence functions, and applies them in a series of case studies.

“This study assesses the value of current commercial activities used within DoD elements of the Intelligence Community, particularly dealing with operational functions such as analysis, collection management, document exploitation, interrogation, production, and linguistic support.”

In the best case, interactions with contractors can serve as a spur towards modernization of the intelligence bureaucracy itself, suggests the author, Glenn R. Voelz, a U.S. Army Major.

“Collaborative effort with nongovernmental entities offers a powerful mechanism to diversify and strengthen the IC’s collection and analytical capabilities, but to fully realize the benefit of these resources the management and oversight of commercial providers must become a core competency for all intelligence organizations.”

A copy of the study, published by the Joint Military Intelligence College, was obtained by Secrecy News.

See “Managing the Private Spies: The Use of Commercial Augmentation for Intelligence Operations” by Maj. Glenn J. Voelz, Joint Military Intelligence College, June 2006.

Also on the general subject of contractors, there is a January 2003 U.S. Army Field Manual entitled “Contractors on the Battlefield” (pdf), FM 3-100.21.

Among the more or less successful intelligence collaborations with industry that were examined by Maj. Voelz, there is nothing quite like the Bush Administration’s use of telephone companies to support the warrantless interception of domestic communications, a probable violation of the law for which the Administration is now urgently seeking retroactive immunity.