The U.S. government is set to ramp-up its snooping on federal workers as a way to prevent scandals, such as the one involving former National Security Agent analyst Edward Snowden, who divulged government secrets to the media.
An electronic monitoring system will keep close tabs on government employees at a level never seen before.
The targets are the five million federal workers who have secret clearances. A computerized system will continually monitor their behavior by checking government, financial, and other databases.
Intelligence officials say keeping closer tabs on federal workers will alert them to rogue agents, corrupt officials, and leakers before it's too late.
There is no word yet on when this sweeping system will be put into place, but an administration review of how the government can better screen its employees is expected to include a recommendation for continuous monitoring of workers with top security clearances.
These employees are already subjected to background checks of their finances and private lives before being hired and again periodically during their tenures.
However intelligence officials want to increase their knowledge of government employees from occasional to constant.
"What we need is a system of continuous evaluation where when someone is in the system and they're cleared initially, then we have a way of monitoring their behavior, both their electronic behavior on the job as well as off the job," Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said.
The union representing government workers is expressing concerns that the new snooping program will result in unintended consequences, such as prompting flawed investigations, intruding too deeply into private lives of government workers, and putting sensitive personal data at greater risk.
In response to those objections, supporters of the new program insist the system will have safeguards.
Former Adm. Mike McConnell, Director of National Intelligence during the Bush administration, cited one example of how the program might work.
"If one guy has a Jaguar on a (government) GS-12 salary, that's a red flag," he said.