GAO Audit: Spy Agencies Provide Faulty Contractor Data

Inaccurate Data With Poor Documentation Given to Congress

Congressional efforts to get a handle on the extent to which US spy agencies are using civilian contractors for “core” functions are being severely undermined, according to a new GAO audit, by those agencies providing Congress with faulty reports on the matter.

Senate Homeland Security Chair Tom Carper (D – DE) says the information is critical “so we know exactly who is managing our nation’s secrets and why.” The interest in contractors has grown out of the Edward Snowden leaks, though in this case focuses on their use in the CIA and FBI, not the NSA.

The problem is, each agency has its own definition of what constitutes a “core contractor,” and many regularly change those definitions between reports. And it just gets more complicated from there.

The GAO says even when the agencies do provide data, it is often inaccurate, and includes little to no documentation to explain what the rules for their particular agency are, and what the data might mean in that context.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of