Secrecy News

Competencies of Intelligence Community Employees

Employees of the U.S. intelligence community are expected to be bold, innovative and imbued with moral courage.

At least, those are the desired qualities that are defined in a series of Intelligence Community Standards (ICS) first issued in 2008 that have just been released under the Freedom of Information Act.

Even a non-supervisory employee at levels GS-15 and below is expected (under ICS 610-3) to demonstrate creative thinking (he or she “designs new methods and tools where established methods and procedures are inapplicable, unavailable, or ineffective”); to consider alternative points of view (she “seeks out, evaluates, and integrates a variety of perspectives”); and to display intellectual integrity (he “exhibits courage when conveying views, presenting new ideas, and making/executing decisions irrespective of potentially adverse personal consequences. Does not alter judgments in the face of social or political pressure.”).

Higher-level, supervisory personnel are to do all of that, and more (ICS 610-4).

And senior officers (ICS 610-5) “are expected to personally embody, advance and reinforce IC core values: a Commitment to selfless service and excellence in support of the IC’s mission, as well as to preserving, protecting, and defending the Nation’s laws and liberties; the integrity and Courage (moral, intellectual, and physical) to seek and speak the truth, to innovate, and to change things for the better, regardless of personal or professional risk.”

Considering the state of the species, it would be remarkable if more than a small fraction of the IC workforce comes close to meeting the lofty standards for performance and conduct that are described here. But perhaps these statements of expectations themselves serve a wholesome, instructive purpose, making their own fulfillment somewhat more likely.

And the standards are more than rhetorical flights. They are to be used (pursuant to¬†Intelligence Community Directive 610) for “qualification, training, career development, performance evaluation, [and] promotion.”