The Private Sector in Security Sector Reform: Essential But Not Yet Optimized

TitleThe Private Sector in Security Sector Reform: Essential But Not Yet Optimized
Publication TypeBook
Subtitle / Series TitleUSIPeace Briefing
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsPerito, R
Number of Pages10 pp.
PublisherUnited States Institute of Peace (USIP)
Accession Number1298

While the U.S. and world economies are slowing markedly, Security Sector Reform (SSR) is a growth industry for the private sector. U.S. government employees may set SSR policy and design projects, but implementation is extensively outsourced to private contractors. With the forthcoming surge of U.S. military forces into Afghanistan, the U.S. Army has announced contracts worth $1.1 billion for the construction of military bases and training centers for Afghan military and police. Private firms supply everything from construction materials to trainers and administrative staff. Private contractors operating in Pakistan and Afghanistan are required to provide their own security. Up to 15 percent of the cost of construction will go to private security firms, which guard convoys, facilities and personnel.
While the role of the private sector has grown, the ability of government agencies to monitor its activities has not kept pace. A recent State Department Inspector General's report noted that the activities of private security contractors have exceeded the Department's ability to supervise them. The report also noted that the Department's practice of hiring contractors to keep track of equipment and services used by other contractors was a possible violation of government regulations.
Is the U.S. government's dependence on the private sector a cause for concern, or is there simply the need for a better understanding of the private sector's role in Security Sector Reform? This question was addressed by a panel of distinguished experts at a recent meeting sponsored by the Institute's Security Sector Reform Working Group.

Full Text