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NGA Strategic Plan Looks Inward

July 18, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman, SIGNAL Online Exclusive
E-mail About the Author

The agency sets lofty goals for its personnel to serve customers.

Breaking with traditional government strategies that target public perception, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) has issued a new strategic plan that focuses on internal processes and goals. While the strategy is a public document, its goals aim largely at the personnel within the agency instead of just the user community. The strategy establishes measures of effectiveness by defining end-states that will be the targets of NGA activities, and it touches on topics ranging from work force activities to major organizational shifts.

Covering the next five years, seven strategic objectives underpin the strategy’s two primary goals: provide online, on-demand access to geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) knowledge; and broaden and deepen analytic expertise to produce new value. These goals align with NGA Director Letitia Long’s thrust to shift the agency from a product-oriented organization to a service-oriented, information- and knowledge-based agency (SIGNAL Magazine, April, page 18).

The seven objectives are content; an open information technology environment; analytic capabilities; customer service; work force; workplace; and corporate and functional management. The main thrust for content is to develop and implement common standards with the GEOINT community to ensure interoperability and permit sharing. For an open information technology environment, the agency will institute a common methodology to organize, identify and search data. This effort also encompasses the development of apps that will provide “immediate access to GEOINT processing and exploitation capabilities.”

The agency aims to improve its analytic capabilities so that they are more aligned with the nation’s most pressing issues, including emerging threats. This will require rethinking and transforming analytic inputs, processes, outputs and performance measures. Agency personnel will undergo advanced training, tradecraft and professional development, including analyst qualification and certification standards. And, the agency will exploit “the full spectrum of geospatial phenomenologies and make use of traditional and nontraditional sources.”

Customer service improvements will include incorporating new and emerging GEOINT capabilities in an effort to anticipate future intelligence and operational needs. A three-tiered service model supported by online on-demand technology and analytic experts will provide customized and responsive GEOINT access. The NGA will help partners develop their own applications and services by leading the definition of GEOINT applications and providing the data framework.

In its focus on work force requirements, the NGA will establish teams that will collectively respond and adapt to emerging mission demands. The agency also will develop career road maps and professional development programs both to provide professional opportunities and to measure performance through a holistic assessment process.

The workplace will see strengthened counterintelligence and security functions, particularly for dealing with insider threats and information assurance. Critical program information will be identified and given threat assessments that will lead to significant protection plans.

The most significant change in corporate and functional management will be the transition of research and development and science and technology to the operational side of the agency. As part of this effort, the NGA will promote cross-community discovery and exploitation of these cutting-edge GEOINT capabilities.

While not cited in the strategy, another of the agency’s key elements is the newly formed Online GEOINT Services (OGS) organization. Described by Long as “still in its infancy,” this user-focused organization will concentrate on business analytics and help determine processes as well as products.