Security Measures Hike Secrecy Costs

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Secrecy does not come cheap.

The federal government spent $7.7 billion last year to safeguard classified information -- and that did not even include what the Central Intelligence Agency spent, says a new report by the federal Information Security Oversight Office. (The CIA's costs, wouldn't you know it, are classified.)

Throw in another $1.5 billion spent by contractors who have ties to the government and access to some classified information, and the total cost for protecting government secrets last year was $9.2 billion, the report said. That was $1.2 billion more than was spent in 2004.

The authors of the report based the numbers on estimates from 41 executive branch agencies. The report accounts for costs associated with such things as security clearances; physical measures to protect classified facilities and information; securing computer equipment, software and databases; and security training and awareness.

The big driver of security cost increases in recent years has been more spending on physical security. That category was up 50 percent, or $348 million, in 2005.

"[T]he fortified homeland defense posture being adopted by many agencies in response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks generated most of the costs associated with this category," the report said.

For example, "a significant number of agencies are upgrading protection for field facilities to include intrusion detection and access control systems, secure communications systems, and increases in number and salary requirements for an enlarged, better equipped, and better trained guard force."

The new report was first disclosed last week in Secrecy News, an electronic newsletter run by Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy.

-- Christopher Lee

New Boss at EEOC

Naomi C. Earp was named chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission this week, replacing Cari M. Dominguez, who will step down at the end of her five-year term today.

Earp was named to the EEOC in 2003 and currently serves as vice chair. She will assume the new position tomorrow.

Earp has been a proponent for young workers, creating an initiative called Youth@Work in 2004 to teach teenagers what rights they have in the workplace and to educate employers about their responsibilities when they hire young workers. The EEOC has held about 1,500 Youth@Work events to teach teenagers about their workplace rights.

Before taking the position at the EEOC, Earp was director of Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity at the National Institutes of Health.

Dominguez, who was feted at farewell reception Tuesday night at the Hotel Sofitel, was unpopular with federal labor union leaders who complained that she cut the agency staff by nearly 20 percent. They probably were not at the party.

-- Amy Joyce

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