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About R J Hillhouse

  • Dr. Hillhouse has run Cuban rum between East and West Berlin, smuggled jewels from the Soviet Union and slipped through some of the world’s tightest borders. From Uzbekistan to Romania, she's been followed, held at gunpoint and interrogated. Foreign governments and others have pitched her for recruitment as a spy. (They failed.)

    A former professor and Fulbright fellow, Dr. Hillhouse earned her Ph.D. in political science at the University of Michigan. Her latest novel, OUTSOURCED (Forge Books) is about the turf wars between the Pentagon and the CIA and the privatization of national security.

    Dr. Hillhouse is an expert on national security outsourcing. Her controversial work has twice elicited a formal response by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence--the only times that office has ever publicly responded to the writings of a private citizen.

    She is a regular media guest and available for interviews.

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  • "This gripping blog is filled with compelling posts on private intel corporations, mercenaries, the CIA, and the War on Terror."

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« Finally, the DIA Gets Some Respect | Main | Forbes: Tom Clancy of the Corporate Military and Intelligence Age »

August 31, 2007


Steve Jones

So, contractor employees are making a private business salary by working for a corporation on contract with the government, and their salary isn't taxpayer funded? How many hands does it have to pass through to become NOT taxpayer funded? Just the one?

Blue badge or green, it's all taxpayer funded.

Happy Labor Day, RJ, and the rest of you, whatever color your badge.

R J Hillhouse


I think the big question with intel outsourcing is: how many hands does it have to pass through so that legal restrictions upon the government don't apply? Just one?


Steve Jones

You're right, R J, that is the big question. The DIA general counsel's answer to both our questions is yes, just one.

Thank you for keeping this very informative weblog. I've learned a lot.

Jeff Carr

Considering the recent IG report on the failure of the DHS ADVISE program (4 years of development, $43 million spent, and it still doesn't work), I'm confident that there are some sound benefits that can be derived from the privatization of intelligence, HOWEVER, what really worries me is if the same people who are building these boondoggles like ADVISE are resigning from the IC only to re-sign with a contracting company. If that's the case, we'll just wind up paying more money for the same FUBAR'd processes.

Brian Drake

My friend turned me on to this blog of your RJ. I think you raise some very thought provoking questions. You are right to point out the inconsistency of the contractor statistics (35% vs. 51%). Obviously, the DIA General Counsel's Office is neither the Acquisition Executive Secretariat of DIA nor DIA Public Affairs. This is unfortunate, since both OPA and AE probably have better data at their disposal than the lawyers. Especially since the lawyers indicate on their slide that the data is over 2 years old. In that time, we've had a new Director for DIA who has made an effort to reduce the contractor workforce and put more warfighters into the defense intelligence cycle.

R J Hillhouse

Thanks, Brian,

Great to hear the blog is being discussed at the INSA/ODNI Analytic Transformation Conference!

Also good to see that the Fingar email memo drummed up a few attendees. I'd love to hear how it's going and what stakeholders outside the IC have been located and who are attending.

Whereas the efforts to reduce contracted workforce might have been there, it's very difficult to imagine that such a significant drop in the contracted workforce could have occurred in such a short time frame--especially when current anecdotal evidence and evidence in the form of the current $1 billion RFP seems to point elsewhere.

Any idea what contracts/functions have been reabsorbed by the DIA?



The comment "...put more warfighters into the defense intelligence cycle." is kind of intriguing. Does this refer to uniformed intelligence personnel, or actual combat arms types?

Ralph Hitchens

That DIA slide is complete nonsense. Government employees and contractors alike are paid what the market will bear. The government seldom has much problem filling its ranks, and if the General Schedule prescribes salaries below what functionally-equivalent contractors make, there are usually reasons why the fed jobs don't go begging -- better job security & benefits, for starters. "Diverse and different standards" for contractors? Nonsense. Every departmental manual governing classified activities in my agency (DOE) has a Contractor Requirements Document that spells out what our responsibilities are, and gosh, they seem to be pretty much identical to those of the feds. Anyone who thinks a contractor can reassign staff members "on a whim" is living in a dream world. Theoretically, perhaps, but not in real life. I have to ask, who benefits from this sort of thing, pitting feds against contractors? If you keep calling us mercenaries, eventually we will start acting like mercenaries in stead of the dedicated de facto civil servants that we are.


After several computations, revisions and nights without sleep, this is the definitive explanation: those contractors are bigger and fatter, needing more office space than the government employees.
Why are they fatter? Do they getter fatter bonuses? Are the government employees just slender, slim secretaries (while the big guys are out to combat) and the contractors desk-jockeys? Or do the contractors only eat junk food but the employees Vietnam-war left-over C-rations?
More research needs to be done - this deserves a comprehensive study. Expect results earliest around March 2008.

Pat Quinn

To someone without any knowledge of this topic, the answer of why there are more contract employees in office space seems obvious (and not very controversial). They probably contract secretarial, cleaning, and similar office work activities. Field work and other more technical matters would be handed by employees.


Every departmental manual governing classified activities in my agency (DOE) has a Contractor Requirements

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  • A tip of the hat to investigative journalist Tim Shorrock who inspired the name of this blog with his path-breaking 2005 article, "The Spy Who Billed Me."

    Shorrock has a dedicated web page on outsourcing in intel. It links to many of his articles which are must-reads for anyone interested in the privatization of intelligence.