It’s 2010. Do you know where your government is? The answer is that, increasingly, government power that should be in the hands of the American people is now in the hands of private companies. This year, we saw lives lost and habitats destroyed from what were widely seen as spectacular regulatory failures: the Upper Big Branch mine disaster and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. But in both cases, the companies were not simply skirting regulation. Often, they were the de facto regulators, not the civil servants. Businesses themselves are shaping (or obviating) rules of conduct that were supposed to prevent these kinds of catastrophes.
This report focuses on businesses that make their living on federal government contracts, and the potential for much the same result when they take on critical government functions. Gone are the days when contractors, say, just sold military parts. Now their scope is vast and the government’s “brain”—internal expertise—is being depleted. They are positioned to influence policy to their liking on even the most sensitive, mission-critical government functions, like fighting wars and guarding against terrorism. The result is that our safety, security, and economy could be jeopardized. The very core of democratic society—citizens’ ability to hold their government accountable and have a say in public decisions— is compromised. So is national security.