Is there a silver lining for Booz Allen?

As damaging as the NSA leaker has been to his former employer Booz Allen Hamilton, how the company responds will be the difference between a momentary embarrassment and a long-term liability.

Since the identity of the National Security Agency leaker was revealed to be a short-term employee of Booz Allen Hamilton, the company has been barraged with critical stories that paint the company is a very negative light.

It’s a classic crisis management moment for the company: Lots of screaming, near hysterical headlines, a breach that was out of its control, scrutiny from customers and Congress, and attacks on its reputation and integrity.

I’m sure there are plenty of other contractors, as well, saying, “There but for the grace of God go I.”

The crisis is compounded in that Booz Allen can’t open its kimono and explain what it does and how it does it because the customer is one of the more secretive agencies in government.

Booz Allen can’t follow the example of CACI International, who counterattacked when it was accused of taking part in prisoner abuses at the Abu Ghraib prisoner in Iraq. CACI put out a vocal and proactive response. CACI Chairman Jack London even wrote a book: CACI: Our Good Name.

I don’t expect anything like that from Booz Allen, though I’m sure they want to defend themselves, and I’m sure they are seething over headlines such Bloomberg’s “Booz Allen’s Top-Secret Profit Machine.”

And the implications in many of the stories are that making a profit as a government contractor is somehow an evil thing. I find that particularly galling. When you look at the employees of companies such as Booz Allen, and you see the large number of former government and military employees, profiteering isn’t what comes to mind.

Instead, you see a group of people who believe in the mission of government. Now, that might cloud their world view into seeing greater risks and dangers than the average person, but it doesn’t mean they are "profits at all costs" kind of people.

But again, Booz Allen is limited in its response. Outwardly, the company will look the same, but I’m sure underneath there is a churn of activity and a hunt for answers:

  • How did a three-month employee get such access?
  • Why didn’t managers and direct supervisors notice anything askew about Edward Snowden?
  • What are the warning signs that an employee is a risk?
  • What kind of training do supervisors and managers need to identify those risks?

I'm sure every Booz Allen employee who came into contact with Snowden is being interviewed and reinterviewed. The paper trail from his first application to his hiring letter are being scrutinized. How did someone who felt the way Snowden did slip into the organization?

The silver lining for Booz Allen will come from its response. I couldn’t help thinking yesterday about Lockheed Martin and the RSA security breach a few years ago. The potential for damage was great, but the incident now is almost a point of pride for Lockheed because of the way the company responded.

Booz Allen might never stand up and explain how it responded, but the company can survive and move forward.

NEXT STORY: How we got our numbers

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.