About Danielle Brian

Danielle Brian is executive director of the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), a non-profit organization that exposes government waste, fraud and abuse, and advocates for open government. POGO provides oversight training to congressional staff, and its Center for Defense Information hosts the Straus Military Reform Project.

Mike German, a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School, interviewed Danielle Brian on July 14, 2014. Read an edited transcript of the full interview here.

Part 1: Waste and Whistleblowers

Danielle Brian explains how government waste, fraud, and abuse undermine the national security mission. She cites studies showing that whistleblowers are more effective than internal auditors and outside investigations in uncovering fraud and abuse.

Part 2: Rating Congressional Oversight

Danielle Brian gives congressional oversight of intelligence activities a failing grade, calling it “almost deliberate incompetence.” She criticizes the House Intelligence Committee for withholding information about the scope of NSA spying programs from the rest of Congress.

Part 3: Privatization of Intelligence

Danielle Brian discusses private contractors’ role in intelligence and national security work, explaining that because these companies are often not subject to the Freedom of Information Act, obtaining information about their activities is more difficult than obtaining it from intelligence agencies.

Part 4: Whistleblowers

Danielle Brian discusses why whistleblowers come to POGO to report internal wrongdoing at their agencies as well as the lack of protection for intelligence community employees.

Part 5: Secrecy Kills Oversight

Danielle Brian explains how the secrecy demands of the executive branch undermine congressional oversight and the constitutional balance of powers between the branches of government.

Part 6: Reform and the Federal Contractor Fraud Database

Danielle Brian explains the importance of public pressure in compelling reform. POGO established the Federal Contractor Fraud Database so contracting officers could track the history of the companies known to have defrauded the government.