How the “Most Transparent Administration Ever” Worsens Transparency with Transparency Effort

The Director of National Intelligence has floated a “shockingly bad” proposal on how much review GAO will be permitted within the intelligence community. According to Steven Aftergood, because the proposal defines the intelligence community broadly, it might result in the loss of GAO review in agencies like DOD and State.

The Director of National Intelligence has prepared a draft intelligence directive on access by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to intelligence information, but it is “shockingly bad,” a congressional official said.

[snip]

The first draft of the new directive is said to reserve maximum discretion to the DNI, and to offer little practical assurance that GAO will get access to the information it needs.So, for example, the definition of intelligence information that may be withheld from GAO extends broadly to law enforcement, military and intelligence information related to national security.  GAO access is to be denied whenever it concerns information regarding “intelligence budgets or funding, or personnel information that… may reveal intelligence strategy, capabilities, or operations.”

“In other words, GAO cannot look at anything that involves money or people,” the congressional official told Secrecy News.  “Combine that with the sweeping, open-ended definition of intelligence and large chunks of the federal government suddenly vanish from [GAO] oversight– DOD, FBI, DHS, State Department, etc.”

Aftergood points out what I did several weeks ago: the intelligence agencies generally (with the exception of NRO), and NSA in particular, have completely ineffective accounting systems.

But when the Committee looked at NSA’s books in 2009, they were still a complete clusterfuck.

The NSA‘s annual financial report was the exception, in that it showed no apparent improvement. In particular, the Committee was concerned about the failed implementation of NSA‘s new financial system. An NSA Inspector General report found that this system was put into operation before it was adequately tested and that operators were not properly trained to use it. The NSA also made $7 million in duplicative invoice payments, and the agency could not successfully reconcile its financial books at the end of fiscal year 2008. Further, a July 2008 Army Finance Command report, referenced by the NSA IG, found that the NSA‘s accounting system was in violation of public laws, Treasury Department financial manuals, and DoD regulations, and was inconsistent with the Federal Managers Financial Integrity Act.

After SSCI cracked heads, the NSA claimed it had fixed the problems in June 2009. Only they hadn’t.

In June 2009, the Director of NSA wrote to the Chairman and Vice Chairman, claiming that the NSA was now ―fully compliant with the laws, regulations, and manuals referenced in the U.S. Army Finance Command report and the Federal Financial Managers Integrity Act. The NSA Director‘s letter also stated that the NSA had been able to reconcile its fiscal year 2008 financial records. In July 2009, the Chairman and Vice Chairman wrote to the Secretary of Defense concerning the NSA Director‘s letter. They stated that in light of the NSA‘s past difficulties in producing auditable financial statements, the Committee believed the progress claimed by the NSA should be independently confirmed by the DoD Inspector General. Specifically, the letter requested that the DoD IG conduct a form and content review of the NSA‘s fiscal year 2009 financial statements to determine whether they were supported by reliable and accounting data and supporting information.

The Committee received the results of the DoD IG‘s review in November 2009, which was very critical of NSA‘s claims. Overall, the IG found that the NSA‘s financial statements were not adequately supported by reliable accounting data and supporting information. An even more disturbing finding was that the NSA‘s ―remediation plans do not fully address audit impediments. Specific findings included an inability to reconcile critical general ledger balances, failure to perform required accounting processes, and inconsistencies between the information contained in the notes to the financial statements and the information provided to the IG. The IG‘s findings raised serious questions about the assertions made by the NSA Director in his June 2009 letter and the support he is receiving from the administrative staff involved.

The report doesn’t actually say whether NSA has since fixed its auditing systems such that someone can actually tell whether the telecoms paid to spy on us are paid what they are supposed to be paid. So the most up-to-date information the report provides is that in late 2009, the NSA wasn’t really planning to fix the things that made it difficult to audit its books.

In other words, even before you get into the GAO oversight of the actual things the intelligence community does, you could at least throw the auditors in GAO at NSA’s awful accounting.

But James Clapper proposes to specifically prohibit such help from GAO.

It’s almost like they want to ensure that no one can audit the NSA’s books.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Reddit0Share on Facebook0Google+0Email to someone

0 Responses to How the “Most Transparent Administration Ever” Worsens Transparency with Transparency Effort

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17
  • 18
  • 19
  • 20
Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz @tomwatson @SusanSarandon @SenSanders No, because, once again, this perceived slight is complete garbage. Seriously, you need to get a grip.
3mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @KellyFlood3 Hey Buddy!
5mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @ryanlcooper Which is not to say that greater economic equality couldn't be a positive step on racism though. It certainly would be.
9mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @ryanlcooper I've been to Sanders stump live, he never says that and neither does anybody else I know.
10mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @drvox Doesn't that undermine your entire comic book BernieBro arg? You said, "Well, these past events were bc of right wing nuts."
13mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel RT @wizardkitten: Staring to think there is a Reagan birthday curse surrounding Dem messaging today.... https://t.co/sP5s7deEzY
14mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @MonaHol This is spot on in many ways https://t.co/R7SC8wlDjs
21mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz The case against Hillary Clinton https://t.co/R7SC8wlDjs An excellent and sober look at the substantive issues with a Clinton Presidency.
27mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @beardedcrank Lehman, Goldman will be issue for Kasich, Jeb, Cruz if they get nomination. But that's all a bit more. @nickconfessore
30mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @nickconfessore Well, and that she's a Democrat. Don't imagine Condi's post-State speeches would ever cause her same problem if she ran.
36mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel Hoping new Beyonce video makes NFL think back to Janet's boob with nostalgia and fear.
38mreplyretweetfavorite
March 2011
S M T W T F S
« Feb   Apr »
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031