National Security Agency Inspector General Robert Storch discusses the importance of transparency, whistleblowers and communication at the intelligence organization.
The Office of the Inspector General at the National Security Agency is undergoing some changes. NSA Inspector General Robert Storch was confirmed in December, and has set about implementing new policies at the organization. An example of these changes is seen in IG reporting. The office’s latest semi-annual report to Congress is unclassified, something unprecedented in the intelligence community. “Transparency is incredibly important for us IGs, it’s really a bedrock principle. We’re talking about oversight over government agencies, and the NSA is a government agency with a large budget and it spends a lot of taxpayer dollars. As an IG, I thought it was really important that we be as transparent as possible,” said Storch. Some of the individual programs obviously we can’t identify the underlying ones or they won’t be of any use. But there was a lot we were able to put out so we thought it was appropriate to issue a public semi-annual report.” In addition to improving transparency, Storch says that one of his major goals is making sure that whistleblowers are protected and feel safe enough to come forward. “The fact of the matter is whistleblower perform such a valuable service to the agency and to the public when they come forward, when they see something that they think is wrong, so that people can check into it. They never, never should suffer reprisal for doing that. What we have tried to do at the NSA is to make sure that we keep the whistleblowers informed of their rights and their protections under the law, that’s something that has changed over recent years. There are greater protections for whistleblowers in the intelligence community,” said Storch. “The reality for IGs is, the agencies that we supervise are just too large and too diverse for us to know everything that is going on. We do our best, but we need people who are out there in the trenches to come forward and tell us when they see something’s wrong so we can take a look at it.”