DNI Disbands the Intelligence Science Board

The Intelligence Science Board (ISB), which was established in 2002 to provide independent scientific advice to the Director of National Intelligence, has been disbanded by the new DNI, James R. Clapper Jr., as part of a process of reorganizing and streamlining the ODNI organization.

“My understanding is that the Director will be disbanding all 20 of his advisory boards, which includes the ISB,” one participant in Intelligence Science Board studies told Secrecy News.

DNI Clapper “did a zero base review of all outside advisory boards as part of an efficiency review,” an ODNI official said.  “The new strategy is to have one Senior Advisory Group and then convene Task Forces on specific issues as needed.”  The Task Forces in turn “may have expiration dates.”  The membership of the new umbrella Advisory Group is now in formation, the official said.

The overall contribution of the Intelligence Science Board is difficult for an outsider to assess, since little of its work has been made public.  But the Board’s 2006 report on “Educing Information” (pdf), which authoritatively explained that there was no empirical justification for the use of coercive interrogation (or torture), remains a milestone in the field.  It demonstrated independent judgment as well as immediate policy relevance.

An ODNI spokesman said the move to eliminate the Board should not be seen as a rejection of science advice, but as a step toward a smaller standing bureaucracy and increased efficiency.

“One of the things I’m doing is… essentially restructuring the Office of the Director of National Intelligence” said DNI Clapper at an October 6 speech (pdf) to the Bipartisan Policy Center.

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