The Intelligence Community

Recommendations and Actions

INTEL04: Integrate Intelligence Community Information Management Systems

Information management activities within the Intelligence Community (IC) lack system interoperability, do not adhere to a common set of standards, and operate without an integrated communications strategy. This environment leads to a proliferation of redundant efforts, inadequate support to IC customers, and a spiraling and unaffordable cost of doing business. The Community's business is information. Without immediate and aggressive action, the status quo in its management of information will result in the equivalent of bankruptcy.

The historical autonomy between elements of the Community has led it to the current crisis in interoperability and the lack of information integration throughout the Community. Operating under rules developed in the 1970s, managers bought non-integrated computers, developed non-integrated software, and were surprised during Operation JUST CAUSE in Panama, when these systems, purchased and developed independently, were not compatible. Moreover, there is no precise accounting of the amount the Community spends on information technology. Performance measurement, management decisions, and congressional oversight will continue to be extremely difficult until this situation can be remedied.

Acquisition rules must also be changed. An approach needs to be considered that emphasizes software libraries, portable to any architecture, and a design methodology that allows for purchase or lease of commercial equipment currently available. A stipulation that the equipment be replaced according the Internal Revenue Service depreciation schedules should be added.

Each agency and/or functional discipline presently "owns" multiple dissemination systems. The continued operation of multiple systems is duplicative and very costly. With new advances in technology and the availability of increased bandwidth, the integration or elimination of many of these systems is a possible alternative.

One of the objectives for Community information integration should be a common communications network that connects a global information grid accessible by all customers. This requires a close relationship between the information and communications suppliers to ensure that the communications architecture supports the data load and accommodates global access. Interoperability also allows decisionmaking to be pushed down to lower levels, sometimes eliminating layers of management.

Finally, security procedures should be redesigned to accommodate Communitywide information systems. The current fragmentation and proliferation of security procedures forms a barrier to the integration of any IC effort. Issues of both information security and technical security must be addressed. In addition, the current state-of-the-art in multi-level security is not adequate for the most sensitive information. The Joint Security Commission is examining this issue.


1. The Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) and the Secretary of Defense should replace the Department of Defense's (DOD's) Intelligence Systems Council (ISC) with an IC organization chaired by the Executive Director for Intelligence Community Affairs and the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Intelligence).

The ISC is a DOD forum for the review of current and planned intelligence information systems, with membership extended to the Community Management Staff (CMS), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the State Department. The new joint IC body--to be called the Intelligence Systems Board (ISB)-- would be chartered to ensure integration of infor-mation and interoperability of intelligence systems Communitywide. It would be empowered to develop, implement, and monitor the Community's information architecture; develop and establish Community standards; review and validate current and future information system needs; and direct reallocation of resources to ensure interoperability throughout the Community.

The organization should have full-time technical staff to support it. This staff would be responsible for the development of Community technical standards and development of a transition plan with costs and milestones.

2. The new Community ISB should impose an immediate moratorium on all new Community information management initiatives or upgrades to current systems until a transition plan is developed and basic standards agreed upon. Waivers may be granted by the DCI/Deputy Secretary of Defense based on valid justification.

This would keep the Community from wasting money on making plans or building systems that do not meet the future Community standard and thus would be unable to operate within the Community architecture.

3. The new Community ISB should establish a Dissemination Working Group to act as the focal point for the receipt, review, and validation of all Intelligence Community dissemination needs. The group should report to the Community Intelligence Systems Board and be composed of members from each component and/or functional area within the IC. It should review dissemination activities within each collection discipline and develop a Community dissemination strategy across the functional disciplines.

4. The new Community ISB should establish a way to identify, track, and evaluate management information within the National Foreign Intelligence Program (NFIP) and Tactical Intelligence and Related Activities (TIARA) budget framework, so that appropriate Community and congressional oversight of these costs is easy to accomplish. This framework would provide visibility into comparable efforts across the Community.

5. The new Community ISB also should continue significant emphasis on the development of multi-level security.

Multi-level security--which is needed to enable the management and distribution of information at different security classifica-tions (top secret, secret,...) over common networks--must remain a high research priority for government, industry, and academia. It remains a highly complex problem without a short-term, all-encompassing solution in sight.


Whenever the term "integration" is used within the Intelligence Community, it immediately triggers alarm systems within the component activities. Implementing change in any culture is a difficult task at best. Any efforts to cross intelligence disciplines and agencies will face substantial resistance. It is essential to the Intelligence Community's survival to implement the recommended actions to integrate the Community into a smoothly functioning whole.

Fiscal Impact

A shared strategy for information integration that includes all activities within the Intelligence Community has a tremendous potential for long-term resource savings. The creation of an information management architecture and a common set of standards will provide the Community with a viable mechanism to determine the appropriate allocation of future resources, including the elimination of some programs. It will also permit the implementation of more efficient and less costly systems for doing business. For example, pushing decisionmaking down to the lowest level is possible with robust information systems and can result in the reduction of management layers. It also introduces savings inherent in a more open and competitive environment that can take full advantage of the technologies and standards of the commercial sector.

The establishment of a Community information focal point and a technical arm for information standards development will result in some savings. This also holds true for establishing a moratorium on new starts or upgrades until the architecture is in place. An estimate cannot be determined at this time. The integration of interdisciplinary dissemination systems also will result in savings over the long-term. Further savings are likely to accrue from the implementation of changes in security procedures recommended by the Joint Security Commission.

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