Sequestration could hurt U.S. intel, analyst says

Monday - 8/13/2012, 2:20pm EDT

For Your Benefit

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By Andrew Mitchell
Federal News Radio

Sequestration could really hurt the ability of America's intelligence community to do its job.

That's the assessment of a long-time observer of the U.S. intelligence community who is herself a former federal employee in the field.

Ellen McCarthy is the president of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance. She says that not only would sequestration be felt immediately upon its enforcement but it would "have a long-term impact on the community's ability to get the right people to do the things they need to do."

Speaking with co-hosts Bob Leins and Tammy Flanagan on this week's edition of For Your Benefit, broadcast live Mondays at 10:00 a.m. on Federal News Radio, McCarthy said she expects to see layoffs in the federal intelligence workforce, most of which falls under the jurisdiction of Defense, if Congress does not act to avert sequestration by January.

McCarthy said that the effects of the threat of sequestration are already being felt on the private-sector side of the intelligence community. She noted that at least one aerospace company that contracts with the federal government has let its workforce know that, come late October or early November, thousands of its employees might receive notice that they are at risk of being laid off.

"There will be layoffs," McCarthy said. "I'm not saying this just because it's scary. It'll happen. There's no other way to do it."

Despite the threat of sequestration, McCarthy said, the intelligence community is still actively recruiting and hiring. That's because many of its professionals are nearing retirement age.

"I think they have done a tremendous job, certainly over the last couple of years, to maintain hiring, even in tough fiscal times," McCarthy said. "Of course, with sequestration, I'm not sure that's going to continue to be the case but, certainly, up until today the agencies are still hiring."