More than 50 Silicon Valley-area companies have been named by the Washington Post as part of "Top Secret America," a network of government and private organizations working on highly classified programs in counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence.
Menlo Park-based firms listed were SRI International and Robert Half Technology.
HP of Palo Alto, Hitachi Ltd. of Santa Clara, Cisco Systems of San Jose, Google of Mountain View and Oracle of Redwood City are the highest-revenue local firms among the government contractors named in the Post series (see the full list of local companies below).
They were among 1,931 private companies named by the newspaper, with the highest concentration of firms located in the Washington, D.C. area.
The defense-intelligence structure built up since Sept. 11, 2001, "has become so large, so unwieldy, and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, or whether it is making the United States safer," the Post said.
U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Menlo Park, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Intelligence Community Management, said the Washington Post series "rips the veil off a problem that intelligence committee members have been struggling with for years.
"The Intelligence Community has grown into a sprawling enterprise, full of redundancies, without internal or external oversight," Eshoo said in a statement.
"The taxpayers deserve a better accounting of where their money is going, and what all this secrecy is costing them. The bill for the nation's intelligence enterprise has grown exponentially and it's not clear that we're getting our money's worth in many cases."
The Post said its investigation uncovers "what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America created since 9/11 that is hidden from public view, lacking in thorough oversight and so unwieldy that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.
"It is also a system in which contractors are playing an ever more important role. The Post estimates that out of 854,000 people with top-secret clearances, 265,000 are contractors."
The newspaper series was prepared over two years by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Dana Priest and author, researcher and military expert William M. Arkin.
The paper said its investigation was based on "government documents and contracts, job descriptions, property records, corporate and social-networking websites, additional records and hundreds of interviews with intelligence, military and corporate officials and former officials.
"Most requested anonymity either because they are prohibited from speaking publicly or because, they said, they feared retaliation at work for describing their concerns."
The newspaper specified neither the role of each of the 1,931 companies nor the size and scope of their government contracts.
It did say the largest category of contracting firms was in the area of information technology, accounting for more than 800 companies.
"Private firms have become so thoroughly entwined with the government's most sensitive activities that without them important military and intelligence missions would have to cease or would be jeopardized," the paper said.
Hiring contractors has turned out to be costly for the government, the newspaper said.
It cited a 2008 study by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that found contractors made up 29 percent of the workforce in the intelligence agencies but cost the equivalent of 49 percent of their personnel budgets.
Among the tasks performed by private companies are inventing technologies that make it easier to find roadside-bomb makers; producing blueprints and equipment for the "unmanned aerial war fought by drones, which have killed the largest number of senior Al Qaeda leaders"; and creating "the transnational digital highway that carries the drones' real-time data on terrorist hide-outs from overseas to command posts throughout the United States."
The article "calls into question whether the federal workforce includes too many people obligated to shareholders rather than the public interest -- and whether the government is still in control of its most sensitive activities."
In interviews last week, both U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and CIA Director Leon Panetta said they "agreed with such concerns," the Post said.
Gates told the Post he "'can't get a number on how many contractors work for the Office of the Secretary of Defense,' referring to the department's civilian leadership."
Eshoo said, "It's time for Congress to start asserting itself and conduct rigorous oversight over the community, rather than serving as a rubber stamp for their budget. We can protect our country and be efficient and transparent at the same time."
Silicon Valley-area firms identified by the Post as being part of "Top Secret America" include:
■ Hewlett Packard, Palo Alto
■ Hitachi, Ltd., Santa Clara
■ Cisco Systems, San Jose
■ Google, Mountain View
■ Oracle, Redwood City
■ URS Corp., San Francisco
■ Robert Half Technology, Menlo Park
■ Agilent Technologies, Inc., Santa Clara
■ Juniper Networks, Sunnyvale
■ Adobe, San Jose
■ Brocade Communications Systems, San Jose
■ Altera Corp., San Jose
■ Quantum, San Jose
■ Digital Realty Trust, San Francisco
■ SRI International, Menlo Park
■ NetApp Inc., Sunnyvale
■ Riverbed Technology, San Francisco
■ Applied Signal Technology, Sunnyvale
■ ArcSight, Cupertino
■ SGI, Fremont
■ Stellar Solutions, Palo Alto
■ Vista Research Inc., Sunnyvale
■ Opal Soft Inc., Sunnyvale
■ ISSI, Walnut Creek
■ Aspera, Emeryville
■ Mark Logic, San Carlos
■ Buxton Consulting, Pleasanton
■ Devine Consulting, Union City
■ Palantir Technologies, Palo Alto
■ Executive Direction, San Francisco
■ Indosys Corp., San Jose
■ Base Line Engineering, San Jose
■ Narus Inc., Sunnyvale
■ TechnologySearch, San Jose
■ Data Mining International, Los Gatos
■ piXlogic, Los Altos
■ IT Tech Inc., Fremont
■ Albin Engineering Services, Inc., Santa Clara
■ Apollo Information Systems, Los Gatos
■ ASICSoft Inc., San Jose
■ Attensity Corp., Palo Alto
■ Autonomy, San Francisco
■ Blackstone Technology Group, San Francisco
■ Brainstorm Consulting, Mountain View
■ Econosoft, San Jose
■ ESG Consulting, Santa Clara
■ Imperva, Redwood City
■ Inxight Software, Sunnyvale
■ OneTen Technologies, San Jose
■ Sysorex Federal, Inc., Mountain View