The guy who blew the whistle on the National Security Agency’s PRISM project, Edward Snowden, didn’t actually work for the NSA. He didn’t work for any other government organization. He didn’t even quite finish high school.

So how did a high school dropout gain access to information about a top-secret government surveillance project? He worked for Booz Allen Hamilton (NYSE:BAH), one of almost 2,000 private contractors that the government hires to do intelligence work. It wasn’t a one-off thing either; a majority of top-secret intelligence projects are now undertaken by private contractors.

Not only does this reduce the U.S. government's ability to contain top-secret information, as was highlighted by the Snowden case, it’s also significantly more expensive to use such private contractors. Here’s a look at exactly how privatized American national security has become: