Agency Overseeing Classified Info in the Hands of Contractors Has “A Lack of Resources to Accomplish Mission,” Its Employees Say

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Keith Rutter
Phone: 202-347-1122
Email: pogo@pogo.org

Agency Overseeing Classified Info in the Hands of Contractors Has “A Lack of Resources to Accomplish Mission,” Its Employees Say

WASHINGTON - In a November 2009 survey of employees at the Defense
Security Service (DSS), a “recurring issue” emerged, according to an e-mail
sent to DSS employees on September 16, 2010, that was obtained by POGO.  Employees said there was “a lack of
resources to accomplish the mission,” according to the e-mail. DSS is the
government agency responsible for ensuring contractors properly handle
classified information.

The e-mail can be viewed here.

“As the government’s secrets are increasingly placed in the
hands of private companies, we need to ensure that these companies can protect
our nation’s crown jewels,” said Nick Schwellenbach, POGO’s director of
investigations.  “GAO reports and
its own out-going director say the Defense Security Service needs to be
strengthened.”

Some experts argue that government contractors with access
to government secrets constitute the soft underbelly of the U.S. national
security apparatus and may be vulnerable to espionage.  For example, BusinessWeek in 2008 documented one attempt to penetrate Booz Allen
Hamilton’s internal computer network.  
DSS has documented that U.S. companies are often the target of believed foreign
espionage attempts and computer intrusion.

The September 16 e-mail goes on to solicit input from DSS
employees.  The survey is brief and
asks very basic questions, such as whether employees have the supplies they
need.

According to a source inside DSS, most of the employees responding
to the survey were troubled by a lack of trained and experienced field security
personnel, rather than how many office supplies they had.

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The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is an independent nonprofit that investigates and exposes corruption and other misconduct in order to achieve a more effective, accountable, open and honest federal government.

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