Big brother on contract

A secret service agent


MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: The federal government has completed its first survey of the number of private contractors on the payroll of the intelligence industry. Of course the exact numbers are, well, classified. Marketplace's Jeff Tyler has the details not considered state secrets.

JEFF TYLER: The survey by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence found that about 40 percent of private contractors were hired to collect or analyze information.

Those jobs used to be handled exclusively by intelligence agency employees. And those private contractors get paid a premium.

EVAN LESSER: You look at the pay increase for contractors versus government employees and you're looking at between 15 and 20 percent increase for someone doing the same exact job.

That's Evan Lesser with, a resource site for jobs in the defense and intelligence industries.

Though they're paid more, Lesser says, the private contractors have less job security.

LESSER: You're getting folks that have a little bit more accountability. The contracts will run out or not be renewed, depending on performance.

Government officials justify the use of higher-paid contractors by saying it allows them to grow or shrink the intelligence workforce quickly.

I'm Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeff Tyler is a reporter for Marketplace’s Los Angeles bureau, where he reports on issues related to immigration and Latin America.


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