Open Source Center (OSC) Becomes Open Source Enterprise (OSE)

10.28.15 | 3 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

The DNI Open Source Center has been redesignated the Open Source Enterprise and incorporated in CIA’s new Directorate of Digital Innovation.

The Open Source Center, established in 2005, was tasked to collect and analyze open source information of intelligence value across all media – – print, broadcast and online. The OSC was the successor to the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS), which gathered and translated world news coverage and other open source information for half a century.

“As part of the Agency modernization effort announced by Director Brennan earlier this year, the DNI Open Source Center (OSC) changed its name to the Open Source Enterprise (OSE) on October 1, 2015,” said CIA spokesperson Ryan Trapani. “OSE remains dedicated to collecting, analyzing, and disseminating publicly available information of intelligence value. The organization’s new name reflects the broad relevance and scope of the open source mission.”

“OSE retains its role as the Intelligence Community’s (IC) center of excellence for open source collection, analysis, and tradecraft,” he added. “Director Brennan also retains his role as the interagency Open Source Functional manager.”

As FBIS also did for several decades, the Open Source Center used to produce a publicly available line of products, including translations and open source analyses. But at the end of 2013, to the dismay of many longtime subscribers, CIA abruptly terminated that channel of public information, citing costs and the easy availability of alternate public sources.

“That decision was primarily due to the cost-prohibitive nature of updating the feed and in light of the broad accessibility of open source information on the Internet,” said Mr. Trapani. “Nevertheless, OSE remains committed to fulfilling its core mission of collecting, analyzing, and disseminating open source information. At this time, however, OSE has no plans to expand the scope of its services to include the regular release of unclassified, non-copyrighted materials to the public.”

That’s unfortunate.

While there is indeed a surfeit of “news” and “information” of all kinds, the open source analytical products generated in the intelligence community have the potential to add value to public discourse. A somewhat random cross-section of OSC products from several years ago that illustrates the range and quality of these analyses, obtained without authorization, is available here.

“If I were the DNI, I would… direct the OSC to release as much unclassified material as it could,” I suggested in a speech last year to a conference of intelligence community lawyers. But I’m not, and it didn’t.

However, the new ODNI transparency implementation plan may present an occasion to reconsider the CIA non-disclosure policy regarding unclassified open source products.

Though the Open Source Center is no more, its name and logo live on in various locations, like this official website.

“OSE’s portal along with other materials branded with the previous OSC seal and moniker, will be updated with new OSE labeling in the coming months,” Mr. Trapani said.

In 2006, the DNI issued Intelligence Community Directive 301 on the National Open Source Enterprise, but it was rescinded in 2012, according to an ODNI spokesman. “It was determined that ICD 113, Functional Managers, provided sufficient authorities and responsibilities for all functional managers, including D/CIA as the open source intelligence [manager].”