Congress and the Intelligence Community: Rebuilding Trust

Thursday, April 16, 2009
AFCEA Intelligence

In recent years Congress has demonstrated significant concern regarding perceptions of the IC’s behavior, practices, and management. In response, IC members sense that Congress wishes to limit their prerogatives and flexibility. Although a number of IC leaders enjoy support on Capitol Hill, the relationship that currently exists between Congress and the community has been undercut in recent years by several circumstances.

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An integration and cross-agency, cross-discipline perspective&

- Senate and House committees definitely need to ensure they receive updates and programs in context of the larger portfolio of activities. Who validates the context and qualifies the information remains a challenge for the ODNI and USD(I) to overcome.

- USD(I) and ODNI efforts to develop an I2A and integrated intelligence enterprise are noble; however, implementation through fora to include I2P, IPG, BA Portfolio, ICA-Year 1-4 appears disjointed. The ODNI's placement of the I2P in CIO, with no charge to the CIO to account for mission process (collection, analysis, assessment mission processesnot the business process of technology design, development, testing, fielding, etc.) self-defeats I2P outcomes. Further, ODNI selection of FFRDC and SETA contractors from the IT sector to advise on the I2P roadmap compounds the "IT-only" paradigm. On the IPG 2011-2015 front, MIP and NIP panels' decisions to continue segmenting title 10 & 50 ISR initiatives perpetuates stovepipe operations. Your white paper discussion about program managers and IC structure is relevant in this context. USD(I) and ODNI leadership should establish a program office that is not buried under the CIO or any other FUNCTIONAL directorate; rather the office should be cross-cutting and the DNI and USD(I) should direct functional manager involvement from the major collection, acquisition, R&D, CIO, etc. directorates.

- IARPA's marketing message of "we handle initiatives in the 15-20 year out timeframe&", with the connotation of "therefore, leave us out of current I2A, I2P, intel reform initiatives discussion" must cease if they want to be successful in enabling the IC. There are bleeding-edge intel reform activities going on right now in the current environment that IARPA SHOULD define as part of their business because some of these program combinations (e.g., JIOC CROSSWALK & PSAS, IC's NIKE, C-Space, A-Space, ICM Program, RT/RG, etc.) are catalysts whose true potential will easily take 15-20 years to reach full potential and impact. Your white paper's points to IARPA, R&D/Acquisition synergies, and the way programs are managed is directly relevant to this observation. Experts supporting IARPA are excited about applying IARPA attention to the above initiatives as a big part of the 20-year solution, yet IARPA rationalization repels them away from adding these ingredients to their "future" recipe.

- On "hiding small programs," it's important for readers to discern between the points of the "value of small programs" and "hiding small programs." Big programs invite bureaucracy and inertia that defeat their noble cause (e.g., ICARS had a noble mission, the bureaucracy killed it). Small programs, when chartered to work together across funding lines, cultures, organizational boundaries, etc., with smart divisions of effort defined by thoughtful assignments to specific phases of intelligence cycle operations (e.g., Collection Requirements Management, Collection Operations Management, Mission Execution Management, Analtyic Mission Management), produce an aggregate and manageable effect that has far surpassed the productivity and effectiveness of big-program initiatives in the past.