Secrecy News

Two Reports Detail Halting Progress on Intel Reform

Some intriguing new details of U.S. intelligence policy were disclosed in two reports on the implementation of the Intelligence Reform Act of 2004 that were issued yesterday by the House Intelligence Committee and by the Director of National Intelligence.

Beyond broad conclusions on the status of intelligence reform, each report voiced numerous passing observations of interest, both favorable and critical.

The report of the House Intelligence Committee noted the following, for example:

“Many of the major acquisition programs at the National Reconnaissance Office, the National Security Agency, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency have cost taxpayers billions of dollars in cost overruns and schedule delays.” (p. 14)

“The National Intelligence Council is… making more use of external experts from academia and think tanks to prepare certain parts of a National Intelligence Estimate.” (p. 16)

“The National Counterterrorism Center … advised that out of the universe of information available on terrorist targets, the National Counterterrorism Center, the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center and the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Joint Intelligence Task Force – Counterterrorism were all analyzing approximately the same ten percent.” (p. 17)

A newly established Analytic Resources Catalog provides “the names and other identifying information such as home agency and areas of expertise for all analysts in the Community.” (p. 19) The DNI report added that “The Catalog contains information on 17,000 IC analysts throughout the IC, including current assignment, professional experience, academic background, language ability, and other biographical information.” (DNI, p. 5)

“We are concerned that individuals with [key] skill sets are not being hired because they may not conform to current hiring policy and standards. Subcommittee members and staff heard startling accounts of very qualified applicants being turned away because their diverse backgrounds do not permit them to successfully complete the rigid and antiquated applicant processing model of a ‘Cold War’ era.” (p. 24)

“The Open Source Center is in the midst of a major acquisition for a large-scale internet exploitation capability…. So far this year, there has been a significant increase in open source entries that have been included in the President’s Daily Brief.” (p. 34)

The report also provided new information on developments in intelligence analysis, intelligence reform at the FBI, the production of the President’s Daily Brief, and more. See the full report of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Subcommittee on Oversight here.

The report of the Director of National Intelligence addressed many of the same topics, though without the criticism or frustration expressed in the House report, and with some additional details.

For example, the DNI has established what sounds like a knock-off of the JASON defense advisory group:

“One new ODNI-sponsored external outreach event is the Summer Hard Problem Initiative, a series of intensive summer studies that will bring together outside experts to address challenging analytic problems.” (p. 5)

And changes to national security classification policy in intelligence may be on the horizon:

“Several new ODNI classification policies are currently in the final stages of review, but more significant shifts may be required. If so, the DNI’s classification and declassification authorities may require strengthening. The ODNI is currently engaged with the NSC in examining the possibility of broader change.” (p. 8)

See the full DNI report here.

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