Letter: Contract spying is inefficient

The NSA spying revelation raises many questions. One in particular is the privatization of this essential government function. Reports state that our federal government contracts with over 1,900 firms, employing over 500,000 people to spy. The infamous Snowden was one such employee. Snowden’s starting salary was more than $100,000 per year, great for a guy with a GED. Yet, midpoint starting salaries for FBI and CIA agents are between $70,000 and $74,000. Each agency requires four-year college degrees. So starting wages cost much more when the private sector does the spying.

Consider management salaries and profit for the shareholders and this contract spying seems rather expensive in an overcharge and deficit-creating way. Also seems like the American taxpayer is being taken to the cleaners. 

There are other troubling questions. Who owns the collected data? Do these firms sell the data to others? How are these contracts awarded, through a competitive process or by the sole-source “it’s who you know” system?  

Something more than a leak stinks here. Congress needs to make major course corrections.

— John Duffy