Martha Minow

Document Type



Private contractors have played key roles in recent high-profile scandals. These scandals hint at the degree to which the U.S. military has increased the scope and scale of its reliance on private security companies in recent decades. This trend offers many advantages, including nimbleness in the deployment of expertise and geographic flexibility. But it also departs from conventional methods of accountability through both public oversight and private market discipline. The lack of transparency in the use of private contractors compounds the problem of assessing the impact of their increasing role. Failures of basic governmental oversight to ensure contract enforcement by the Department of Defense are welldocumented. Departures from conventional government contracting procedures exacerbate these failures and obscure whether inherently governmental functions are in effect privatized. The large sums of money involved contribute to risks of corruption and a scale of private lobbying that can distort the legislative process. These developments jeopardize the effectiveness of military activities, the professionalism of the military, the integrity of the legislative process and foreign policy decision making, public confidence in the government, national self-interest, and the stability of the world order.