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I was over at Langley recently attending a CIA friend’s retirement ceremony. I bumped into a lot of people I knew and we talked about what we were up to. Most of them had recently retired from the Agency, many pulling down retirements at close to $100,000. Nearly all of them were working for various contractors, basically doing the same work that they were doing before they retired but for much more money. Several noted that they were making in excess of $200,000 per annum in their second careers, together with a full benefits package. One complained that he was making so much money that he had jumped tax brackets and the state of Virginia and federal government were taking much of what he earned, so much so that he was considering turning down a promotion because it would require more travel and bring in very little more net income.

I recall that when I worked briefly for a CIA contractor back in 2001-2, I was told that the contractors used a formula based on the earnings of their employees. Three-to-one was common, which means that a $200,000 employee would be billed to the government at $600,000. At that time, a third of CIA employees were contractors. More recently, it has been reported that half are.

A couple of officers noted that they did not have a lot of work to do in their new positions. Several said that there was a lot of make-work and paper drills that didn’t make sense. It seems that there are a large number of people sitting around in various places at something like $700,000 a pop with benefits on top of that. Wonder if anyone is looking at the intelligence budget.

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: CIA 
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  1. How many people are even allowed to look at the intelligence budget? Isn’t it a pretty restricted group?

  2. Cfountain72 says: • Website

    Absolutely disgusting. And it happens throughout many departents of the government. And as the disgust wears away, it just becomes ‘normal’ or even ‘expected’ to rock a golden parachute of sorts upon leaving you’re government job.

    I think a lot of Republicans/free-market fans fell under the spell that government contractors=free market solutions. In fact, we know that is not the case at all. This is crony capitalism at its worse.

    Peace be with you.

  3. SteveM says:

    Philip,

    You are describing the pathological DoD revolving door model to a T. Only it’s an order of magnitude larger than CIA. Where else can someone retire to a full pension IMMEDIATELY after 20 years of service? So you got healthy people in their early to late 40′s taking home a least half their pre-retirement salary (along with all the other benefits.) And then get no-pressure jobs riding desks as government contractors.

    And here’s how it works. Many uniformed officers close to retirement spend idle time in staff jobs and program offices. And those staff and program offices are supported by contractors whose primary activity is PowerPoint engineering to support the office budget. I.e., a lot of work is implicit marketing saying how effective the program is.

    Moreover, the Program Manager has the contractor he wants to retain actually write the Statement of Work (SoW) for a supposedly competitive bid. But of course, the SoW is written such that the bidding process is totally wired to the contractor of choice.

    And who do those contractor companies hire for the work? Why the newly retired officers who just came out of the offices of course. And then what do those newly retired officer do as contractors? Well one task is to schmooze with the new uniformed Program Manager (PM), who used to work for him!

    And guess what? The new PM is also retiring in couple of years. And who do you think he wants to work for when HE retires? You think he may game the process to ensure the right contractor gets the work so he has a job waiting?

    The Beltway is saturated with uniformed people and contractors working this outrageous business model, with most work products being studies and analyses with half-lives of maybe 10 minutes.

    Your tax dollars at work…

    P.S. Question: if raising the Social Security retirement age makes sense, why not raise the military retirement age as well?

    P.P.S. Answer: Because the Cult of Military Exceptionalism makes all DoD spending sacrosanct. From unneeded weapons platforms to military bands to a metastasized retirement system.

  4. DCThrowback says: • Website

    Defense is quite similar. Both departments have used GWOT/OCO funds to get fat bureaucratically. Total white collar welfare.

    The simple solution is to cut everything. It can be done. It needs to be done. And it won’t hurt as much as anything thinks.

  5. The utter wastefulness of this spending is really brought into focus when you consider the abysmal track record of the CIA. What are we getting for all this money–just more of the same failure!

  6. tbraton says:

    “The utter wastefulness of this spending is really brought into focus when you consider the abysmal track record of the CIA. What are we getting for all this money–just more of the same failure!”

    When Bob Gates was at the CIA in the 1980′s, his area of specialty was the Soviet Union. Wikipedia has the following anecdote under the heading “Predictions of Soviet Collapse”:

    “Steward Brand said when introducing the work of Philip Tetlock that Brand’s partner had given a talk in the 1980s to top CIA people about the future of the Soviet Union. One scenario he raised was that the Soviet bloc might break up; a sign of this happening would be the rise of unknown Mikhail Gorbachev through the party ranks. A CIA analyst said that the presentation was fine, but there was no way the Soviet Union was going to break up in his lifetime or his children’s lifetime. The analyst’s name was Robert Gates.[36]” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Predictions_of_Soviet_collapse#Robert_Gates

    I can remember reading a review of a book written by a female analyst at the Hoover Institution around 1983 to 1985 with the title “The Coming Economic Collapse of the Soviet Union” or something like that. I have been trying to track down the book but have been unsuccessful so far.

  7. maxsnafu says:

    @tbraton:

    I can’t remember the exact title either but the book in question I believe was written by Judy Shelton.

  8. “I think a lot of Republicans/free-market fans fell under the spell that government contractors=free market solutions. In fact, we know that is not the case at all.”

    so, where is the tea party? stupid question i know but i just want to put it out there.

  9. tbraton says:

    “I can’t remember the exact title either but the book in question I believe was written by Judy Shelton”

    maxsnafu, she’s the one I have been wracking my brain for weeks now and trying unsuccessfully to Google “predictions of the collapse of the Soviet Union.” Thanks for the tip. I will now Google her to see how well my memory was working as far as the approximate date is concerned.

  10. tbraton says:

    maxsnafu, the name of the book was “The Coming Soviet Crash,” and it was published in January 1989, several years later than I remember.

    http://www.amazon.com/Coming-Soviet-Crash-Gorbachevs-Desperate/dp/002928581X

    Btw, this is from one of the reviews on the Amazon link: “Shelton concludes by warning against making capital or resources available to the USSR since any improvement in Soviet economic performance will enhance its military capabilities.” I have always been puzzled by the fact that we followed two completely different policies with respect to the U.S.S.R. and the People’s Republic of China (after Nixon). I would merely note that the Soviet Union disappeared 20 years ago.

  11. tbraton says:

    Brian Lamb interviewed Judy Shelton in 2009, and, during the interview, she discusses her 1989 book “The Coming Soviet Crash.”

    http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/289812-1

  12. Jim Bovard says: • Website

    Phil, it’s hard to imagine members of the congressional intelligence committees paying attention to anything except the perils of leaks. I suspect that many of the long-term members of those committees are already salivating about receiving an Agency Seal Medal from the CIA to burnish their resumes and lobbying fees.

  13. maxsnafu says:

    @tbraton:
    “I would merely note that the Soviet Union disappeared 20 years ago.”

    Too bad NATO hasn’t gotten the word yet.

  14. Frank says:

    @maxsnafu

    “Too bad NATO hasn’t gotten the word yet”

    nor the DoD, the Congress, or the two major parties, why else are they still trying to arm to US to fight the Red Army in Europe in 1982???

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