Private equity titan Carlyle Group, which has over $176 billion in assets, has a 67% stake in Booz Allen Hamiliton, the 24,500-person firm who hired the man responsible for the major National Security Agency (NSA) leaks, Edward J. Snowden.
The New York Times says the government’s increasing reliance on private contractors like Booz Allen has created a revolving door through which former government workers pass.
“Thousands of people formerly employed by the government, and still approved to deal with classified information, now do essentially the same work for private companies,” notes the Times. “Mr. Snowden, who revealed on Sunday that he provided the recent leak of national security documents, is among them.”
As U.S. budget cuts have taken hold, Booz Allen has shopped its cybersecurity services to Middle Eastern companies and governments, reports the Washington Post.
Booz Allen, which generated $5.8 billion in revenue last fiscal year, previously employed current Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Booz Allen’s current vice chairman Mike McConnell is also a former NSA director.
While the Caryle Group makes its money across a wide swath of business sectors, Booz Allen makes almost all its money through taxpayer-funded government contracts.
That the NSA’s biggest security breach emanated from a company almost entirely funded by taxpayers, say watchdog groups, means greater oversight is needed.
Booz Allen’s “track record up to this point has been fairly clean,” says Project on Government Oversight attorney Scott Amey. Still, Amey stresses that “these contractors are in very sensitive positions that allow them to have access to the most sensitive and secret government programs. And we need checks and balances on the system.”