Yet when it comes to the spooks, none of this applies. There is no transparent performance monitoring - we are expected to just trust them to be doing the right things. Beyond vague generalisations, we don't even know what "the right things" are said to be. And judging from last night's TV, the "separation of powers" dictum doesn't apply either.
This should create quite severe "incentive compatibility" problems. Agency theory predicts that spies will respond to their situation in some or all of the following ways:
- Shirking, i.e. not doing the stuff they should be doing (whatever that is),
- Fibbing, for example by over-stating what they've actually achieved,
- Inventing work that feeds their own ego and sense of place in the world, and
- Corrupting idealistic new recruits who don't understand the rort.