"Smart" Intelligence Means Innovation

New guidelines from the Director of National Intelligence dictates that 16 agencies encourage greater innovation, cooperation and cross-pollination.

The guidelines create descriptions of intelligence jobs and skills, making it easier to assemble teams of experts from different agencies to respond rapidly to crises and to work together on assignments, according to a report authored by Limor Ben-Har, a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of the Presidency, and Myra Howze Shiplett, president of RandolphMorgan Consulting LLC and head of the Human Capital Working Group for PNSR.

Employees who gain experience working in another agency are more likely to cooperate with colleagues across agency lines. The current stove-piped system, which discourages joint assignments and interagency cooperation, has hampered collaboration and policy implementation at historical junctures.

The report notes that America’s national security system has failed to keep pace with changing threats. Without a culture of collaboration national security agencies struggled to bring in the right people at the right time to build provincial reconstruction teams in Iraq. The botched federal response to Hurricane Katrina is another example of what can go wrong when agencies fail to work together.

In December, the Project on National Security Reform released its recommendations in a report titled “Forging a New Shield,” which flagged the need to strengthen the national security workforce as essential. It also noted that Presidential leadership is essential in serious national security reform.

The coalition’s recommendations call for developing an incentive system linked to goals in the periodic national security strategic assessment. It also recommends significant investments in training to make sure agencies have the talent needed to carry out their missions.

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