The Intelligence Community

INTEL02: Enhance Community Responsiveness to Customers


The Intelligence Community (IC) is often perceived as not satisfying the needs of its customers (civilian and military policy, strategic, and tactical decisionmakers) with useful, timely, and unique intelligence. There are numerous reasons for this: inadequate or nonexistent intelligence access; redundant reporting vehicles; lack of understanding of customers' needs; and lack of understanding of IC capabilities.

While the IC's customer base continues to broaden, the IC has not determined how best to serve some of the new, non-traditional customers. It also has not marketed its product to potential new customers who are players in post-Cold War national security issues. During the Cold War period, the customer base was dominated by the principal players in the national security community, such as the Department of Defense and military services, the Department of State, and the National Security Council, who were engaged in the machinations of the Cold War. Recently, however, new customers, such as industry, law enforcement agencies, and other non-traditional customers such as the Departments of Labor and Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency have become increasingly important.

The Congress and the American public, two other stakeholders in the IC product, continue to question whether the IC is worth the money it receives. While the relationship with the intelligence oversight committees is much better than with the Congress at large, some members still see the IC as a Cold War anachronism and a potentially lucrative source of savings. Congress often views the intelligence agencies as 10 to 13 separate voices and not as a Community. The IC does not effectively counter this impression. In the same vein, the majority of Americans are not aware of the unique peacetime role the IC has in protecting them from political, military, economic, and even environmental harm. Public misperceptions of intelligence activities influence the IC's relationships with its customers.

The current process of determining intelligence customers' needs, translating these into collection requirements, and producing intelligence is a jumble of loosely connected processes. These processes are disjointed within the IC and are confusing to the customer. In addition, the Community is not fully able to anticipate shifts in needs and to quickly respond in those inevitable instances when a need has not been foreseen. Finally, there is no systematic way by which the Intelligence Community can measure its performance in meeting these needs or systematically follow up on lessons learned.


1. The DCI should appoint a customer advocate, or ombudsman. The ombudsman would serve as an impartial observer, facilitator, and commentator on Community products and procedures in support of the customer. With a small staff, the ombudsman would have access to all products, maintain continuous contact with the customer on issues of satisfaction, and serve as an arbiter of issues on customer support. The ombudsman tasks for the first year would include the following:

--- Lead an IC team in the development of measures of customer satisfaction and effective IC performance. This should lead to an aggressive IC program of performance assessment, performance improvements, and IC accountability.

--- Conduct a series of forums for customers with like needs, where those needs can be closely coupled with the capabilities of the production community. This would lead to better understanding of customer needs and the ability of the IC to meet those needs.

--- Orchestrate the development of a program for educating customers about the capabilities and limitations of the IC. Using videos, handbooks, and personal interaction, enable each customer to have a basic understanding of how to interact with the system.

--- Develop a one-week forum for newly appointed executive assistants, the access points to the IC's senior leadership customers, to explain IC capabilities and the importance of feedback from senior policymakers to the IC.

The ombudsman's objective would be to achieve Communitywide cultural orientation to the customer and not to be just an evaluator of customer satisfaction. If real or perceived satisfaction of IC performance by the customer community were achieved, there would not be a need for such an ombudsman. The DCI and his Executive Committee should reevaluate this position in two years to determine if it needs to exist or if a new approach is warranted.

2. The DCI should establish a process which continuously tracks the needs of the IC customer.

The process should be simple to implement and to understand. The IC currently has a plan in the works and should evaluate this proposal to see if it meets the above requirements. Part of this new plan involves the appointment of IC issue managers. These managers will be appointed from the National Intelligence Officers (NIOs) in the National Intelligence Council (NIC) and the directors of DCI centers. The NIC should be directed to facilitate the interaction among policy analysts and NIOs, Defense Intelligence Officers, and SIGINT (Signals Intelligence) National Intelligence Officers to strengthen the feedback process.

3. The Community Management Staff should explore the feasibility of IC integrated service teams for larger customers with growing intelligence needs and provide the teams with electronic connectivity to IC producers and their databases.

These teams would be able to provide the necessary services to ensure that customers are getting their needs satisfied. They would also ensure optimum feedback to the IC. To handle the intelligence needs of smaller organizations that cannot sustain a fully integrated team, a separate office should be established in downtown Washington, D.C..

4. The Community Public Affairs Office should jointly develop programs to inform the general public about the value of the services provided by the IC.

Since current public affairs offices speak only for their individual agencies, IC public affairs offices should be tasked to coordinate policies and programs for the Community. These programs should inform the public about successes that can be discussed without revealing sensitive sources and methods. They should also explain the intelligence process and how intelligence agencies are held accountable in an open, democratic society. This would lead to better public acceptance of intelligence during periods other than war or conflict. The strategy for this objective should be developed by the beginning of fiscal 1994.

5. The DCI should establish an integrated Community congressional liaison office. The newly established office should develop a Community- wide congressional strategy by January 1994.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Office of Congressional Affairs plays a nominal role for the DCI with regard to IC business. This level of IC effort is inadequate in today's environment. An integrated IC office would help provide a single voice in dealing with Congress by coordinating the IC's relations with Congress. Since Congress is a principal interface between the American public and U.S. Government, this office could ultimately help in educating the public about the benefits of the IC. In addition, this office would allow the individual agencies to reduce the size of their congressional liaison offices.

6. The new Intelligence Community Intelligence Systems Board should create a multimedia information handling architecture for the IC and its customers.

Customers must be able to "pull down" IC products when they need them, in a format they can use. Therefore, the architecture should place an emphasis on desktop publishing, electronic dissemination, video, electronic imagery dissemination, and the development of user-friendly databases. It should be completed by the end of fiscal 1994. Full electronic connectivity (voice, video, data, imagery, and teleconferencing) should be established among IC analysts and managers by fiscal 1998. By the year 2000, it should be established with all intelligence customers. Multi-level security is a goal that must be pursued to achieve viable interoperability. Continued investment in research and engineering for multi-level security solutions are essential. (Refer to INTEL04 for more detail on information management recommendations.)

7. The National Intelligence Producers Board should establish, by the end of fiscal 1994, a single, unified, tailored IC series of products for high-level customers of national intelligence.

These would replace the numerous summary publications currently confounding our senior customers. (These would not necessarily replace departmental products for Cabinet-level customers.) Virtually all hard- copy executive intelligence summaries should be eliminated by the year 2000. The Board should develop a plan that will provide tailored electronic IC summaries to the customers instead. The integration of MAGIC (CIA's electronic dissemination pilot system) and the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System (the Defense Intelligence Agency's system) should be examined with the option to use these multimedia dissemination systems as a starting point.

8. Production managers should encourage the use of the lowest practical level of classification for IC products. Implications

In an environment of diminishing resources, accomplishing this set of recommendations will facilitate meeting future challenges of an unstable world and an ever-more-demanding and diverse customer base. DCI leadership is needed to set policy for customer focus and move the IC toward greater integration. It will also demonstrate the willingness to move into a new age of customer support.

The establishment of customer forums and service teams and the undertaking of customer training programs will enhance the link between the customer and the Intelligence Community. It will also ensure the customers' needs are understood and met. This improved understanding of customer requirements will make account-ability measures easier to formulate. The establishment of an Intelligence Community- wide forum, where intelligence needs are connected directly to collection and production, will ensure the desired results are obtained. Customer feedback will enable elimination of duplication in production.

Fiscal Impact

Most of the actions above may require some additional resources. Some savings will be realized by integrating various support and analytic activities. Full electronic connectivity will also eventually result in some cost avoidance. Reduction, and eventual elimination, of hard-copy products will result in some cost savings over the very long haul, but not without some up-front investment.

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