Hagel Pledges Review of Civilian Contractors After NSA Leak

Budget hearing focuses on costly civilians like NSA leaker Edward Snowden

AP

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel pledged a full review of all civilian contractors on Tuesday, putting emphasis on determining the exact number of expensive private contractors employed by the Department of Defense.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) asked Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey about Edward Snowden, a former employee of Booz Allen Hamilton and the suspected leaker of countless classified NSA documents at a Senate Appropriations Defense subcommittee meeting.

Durbin used Snowden’s actions to highlight the Department of Defense’s inordinate spending on civilian contractors, saying that civilian contractors are paid three times more than their DOD counterparts.

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Hagel pledged a full review of all civilian contractors, putting emphasis on determining the exact numbers of contractors the DOD employs due to the increasing pressure on the department from extended budget cuts.

Both Hagel and Dempsey stressed the damages incurred by the across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration, saying the pitfalls of managing the DOD from budget to budget were damaging the overall "top line" of the U.S. military.

Additionally, Hagel and Dempsey said the ongoing budget cuts were hampering the ability for the U.S. military to conduct training operations.

Dempsey cited the cuts in unit’s ability to participate in training exercises at the Army’s joint training centers. Dempsey compared this failure to a team not being able to practice together.

"What we’re doing is training individual players on a basketball team but we’re not giving them an opportunity to scrimmage before we might at some point put them in the game," Dempsey said. "That’s a bad place to be."

The subcommittee adjourned until Wednesday at 10 a.m. where they will be discussing DOD voluntary education programs.