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Government By Contract: The White House Needs Capacity To Account For The Legacy Of 20th Century Reform

By Dan Guttman

Signature priorities of the Bush and Obama administrations highlighted the deep and oft unaccountable roles of private contractors in the basic work of government, including national security activities and public welfare activities of highest level White House priority. Following 911, the country learned that, in addition to designing and building weapons, much of the work of war fighting is contracted out—through companies like Halliburton, Blackwater, CACI—contractors in the mess halls, on the battlefield, in Abu Ghraib prison. The “roll out” of the Obamacare, the domestic policy signature of the Obama Administration, was jeopardized by the reliance on contractors whose work was seemingly beyond official control. The post 911 dependence of national security cyber intelligence gathering on contractors was punctuated by the ability of a contractor employee—Edward Snowden—to access and release a trove of ostensibly deep national secrets.

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