Five government contractors account for 80% of America's surveillance workforce

When Edward Snowden came in from the cold, it catapulted his employer, Booz Allen Hamilton — a giant military/intelligence contractor — into the public eye, but Booz is small potatoes, one of the Big Five in the intelligence contractor industry, but it's dwarfed by Leidos Holdings, which recently merged with Lockheed's  Information Systems & Global Solutions to become the largest business in the $50B industry.

All told, the Big 5 (Leidos, Booz, CSRA, SAIC, CACI) account for 80% of that $50B annual pork barrel paycheck for assisting America's spy agencies. This is an unprecedented level of concentration in the intelligence-industrial complex. This situation has created a seller's market for intelligence services, where too-big-to-fail contractors operate with impunity in a cash-rich, unsupervised, secret industry, able to call the NSA's shots.

The Big 5 supply the majority of the spy agencies' staff, including senior staffers who report directly to agency directors. The total numbers, and the money involved, are both secrets, and can only be estimated through indirect means.

Before the merger, Leidos employed 9,400 people holding security clearances, according to figures on its website that were confirmed by a company spokesperson. They are now joined with about 2,000 cleared employees from Lockheed's IT unit, for a total of 11,400 cleared professionals (in its story on the merger, The Washington Post said the total number was 13,000). I then took into account the company's share of earnings from military, intelligence (27 percent of its revenue, according to Leidos), and civilian contracts, and concluded that the Leidos intelligence workforce now numbers about 8,000.

The figures for its competitors, using the same calculations, are equally staggering. Booz Allen deploys an intelligence workforce of 12,000 cleared personnel; CACI, 10,000; CSRA, 8,000; and SAIC, 6,600. Added together, the five companies employ 44,600 cleared personnel, which I rounded out to 45,000.

That's nearly 80 percent of the total contractor workforce of 58,000 and about one-fifth of the total workforce of 183,000 civilians, contractors, and uniformed soldiers working in national and military intelligence.

 5 Corporations Now Dominate Our Privatized Intelligence Industry [Tim Shorrock/The Nation]

(Image: Leidos Day One Party – John P. Jumper & Stu Shea, Jarek Tuszyński, CC-BY-SA)