POGO Supports the
for Better Oversight of the Intelligence Community
Dear Members of the House of Representatives:
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) urges you to vote in favor of the amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill now under consideration that would require the Director of National Intelligence to comply with Government Accountability Office (GAO) audits of the intelligence community.
GAO reports play an essential role in effective congressional oversight of the intelligence community. And yet, the Obama administration and the intelligence community repeatedly have moved to block GAO reports to Congress, including by issuing a veto threat to the Intelligence Authorization bill that would have restored GAO's role in oversight. Cutting off critical oversight tools does not make us safer, but rather puts our nation at risk by limiting the information Congress needs in order to assess national security threats, civil liberties violations, misuse of taxpayer dollars, gaps in information sharing, and problematic management issues.
Objections over sensitive information sharing are false arguments. While the amendment provides for additional procedures to safeguard sensitive information, GAO staff already have the expertise and security clearances appropriate to deal with sensitive and classified information.
As POGO investigator Ingrid Drake wrote on our blog on March 17, 2010:
One of Congress’s most critical oversight tools is the GAO, which provides methodologically sound, non-partisan, in-depth reviews to Congress. GAO has experts in financial management, acquisitions, information sharing, human capital, strategic planning, information technology, and other management issues that congressional committees may not have. Inside sources tell POGO that as of May 2009, GAO had 199 staff members holding a Top Secret security clearance, with 96 of those holding Sensitive Compartmented Information clearances.
POGO strongly supports this amendment to restore the critical role of GAO reporting to congressional committees to improve much-needed oversight of the intelligence community. We urge you to vote in favor of this amendment, which is not only a good-government measure, but is also one that will strengthen our national security.