The Need to Reorganize the Intelligence Community
A Senior Officer’s Perspective
Editor’s Note: The Center for the Study of Intelligence invites readers to engage in debate on the issues raised in this article. Commentary will be considered for publication in future issues of the journal.
The Intelligence Community (IC) should be reorganized to more concertedly, effectively, and efficiently address today’s national security intelligence needs. No one (except the Director of Central Intelligence) and no organizational entity is actually responsible for bringing together in a unified manner the entire IC’s collection and analytic capabilities to go against individual national security missions and threats, such as terrorism, North Korea, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and China.
To correct this deficiency, the IC must:
Refocus its management and organizational structure around substantive national security missions rather than collection;
Create new Community-wide, mission-oriented centers; and
Have a leader who is truly “in charge.”
Taken together, these changes would fundamentally revamp the way the IC functions.
Previous Reform Efforts
Reorganizing the IC is not a new idea. Over the past 50-plus years, more than 20 official commissions and executive branch studies have proposed organizational and administrative adjustments to improve the operation of the IC. Many of these previous efforts have espoused similar recommendations, such as enhancement of the Director of Central Intelligence’s (DCI’s) authority to manage programs, personnel, and resources across the Community, or the creation of a new position—Director of National Intelligence (DNI)—to run the IC, leaving the DCI to manage the CIA.
As early as 1949, the first Hoover Commission called for the CIA to be the “central” organization of the national intelligence system.
In 1955, the second Hoover Commission recommended that the DCI concentrate on his Community responsibilities and that an “executive officer” oversee the day-to-day operations of the CIA.
In 1971, the Schlesinger Report discussed creation of a DNI, but did not propose establishing such a position over the DCI. Instead, the report simply recommended that the nation needed a strong DCI who could control intelligence costs and production.
In 1976, the Senate Select Committee to Study Government Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities (the Church Committee) issued a report that, inter alia, recommended that national intelligence funding be appropriated to the DCI, thereby giving him control over the entire IC budget. The report also recommended separating the DCI from the CIA.
In 1992, proposed legislation from Senator Boren and Representative McCurdy called for a DNI with programming and reprogramming authority over the entire IC and the ability to temporarily transfer personnel among IC agencies.
In 1996, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence produced a staff study—IC21: The Intelligence Community in the 21st Century—that called for more corporateness across the Community and strengthened central management of the IC by providing the DCI additional administrative and resource authorities. It also proposed consolidating all technical collection activities into one large agency; refining the “center” concept as employed by the CIA; and creating two deputy DCIs, one for Analysis and one for Community Management, including collection.
None of the recommendations that would fundamentally alter the management or organizational structure of the IC and significantly strengthen the DCI’s managerial authorities over the IC have been implemented. Today, the DCI’s only real authorities are related to managing the CIA, not the Intelligence Community. Moreover, previous recommendations for change failed to consider fully the fundamental problem plaguing the IC: The Community is not managed or organized to directly address national security missions and threats. The Community continues to have a “stovepipe” collection focus. From a management and organizational perspective, the Community today is not much different than it was in 1947 when the National Security Act was passed.
A More Complex World Demands Change
In recent years, the escalation of transnational threats and demands for peacemaking around the world have increased the imperative to strengthen the management and organization of US Intelligence writ large—the National Foreign Intelligence Program (NFIP, referred to in this article as the IC); and the Joint Military Intelligence Program and Tactical Intelligence and Related Activities (JMIP and TIARA), organic DoD intelligence activities supporting military operations. The Department of Defense already intends to reorganize intelligence activities under its direct control by creating, with Congressional support, a DoD intelligence czar, the Under Secretary of Defense (Intelligence), or USD(I). This new position is needed because during the tight resource years of the 1990s, the military services reduced their organic tactical intelligence capabilities, trading them for the new weapons and operations/maintenance activities needed to preserve readiness. With the lack of intelligence investment, the military, for the most part, stopped making any distinction between national and tactical/operational intelligence capabilities. Today, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), the Combatant Commanders, and the services essentially presume that the DCI will provide the tactical intelligence they need to conduct military operations. This reliance on national systems threatens not only military operational capabilities, but also our overall strategic national security posture.
The country’s security requires that both national and tactical intelligence capabilities be managed and organized effectively. It would degrade the IC’s ability to support overall national security if the national-level intelligence capabilities of the NFIP were to be transformed into purely tactical capabilities to meet military operational needs. National intelligence is intended to provide critical information to help protect against a strategic surprise, providing policymakers ample time to develop a response—whether diplomatic, military, or otherwise. Moreover, national intelligence provides shorter-term indications and warnings about possible impending problems to help policymakers forestall more immediate military and other conflicts. Tactical intelligence supporting military operations is primarily needed once a conflict has begun—of course, planning and funding for such intelligence capabilities must be accomplished before the conflict. Efforts to redirect national-level intelligence (NFIP) funding toward purely tactical intelligence capabilities would reduce the DCI’s ability to provide the information demanded by his national customers—including the President, members of the National Security Council, other Cabinet officials, and the Congress.
The USD(I), hopefully, will concentrate on tactical/operational intelligence issues within DoD. Currently, no one in the Department of Defense is in charge of determining what tactical intelligence capabilities are needed to support military operations, and organizing and implementing a service-wide process to ensure that such capabilities are developed and funded. The USD(I) should accomplish these tasks by directly managing JMIP and TIARA and organizing TIARA into a functioning program.
The new global order, however, also calls for a fundamental rethinking of how the Intelligence Community (the NFIP) should be managed and organized to support critical strategic intelligence needs.
Focus on Missions
The managerial and organizational emphasis in the IC should be on national security missions and issues. Today’s IC, however, is organized by collection “stovepipes,” essentially independent agencies responsible for specific types of collection activity. Signals intelligence is handled by the National Security Agency (NSA), imagery intelligence by the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA), and human intelligence by the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency. As a result, the IC’s emphasis presently is on the type of collection, first, and substantive missions/issues, second.
This structure creates a strange and dangerous managerial situation because no organization or person in the IC (except the DCI) is actually responsible for (or can be held accountable for) success or failure against the primary national security missions of the Community, such as countering terrorism or understanding the threat from North Korea. Instead, the IC is managed and organized primarily according to analytic and collection capabilities that are needed to carry out these missions. No IC-wide operational organization exists to direct the collective activities of these stovepipe capabilities against specific national security missions.
Although the collection agencies are needed to manage how collection activities are implemented, what these agencies collect (and analyze) needs to be substantively managed in a centralized way by mission/issue. If the President, the DCI, or the Congress has an intelligence question, they should be able to do one-stop shopping based on the issue, not based on how intelligence was collected or analyzed.
“Centerize” the IC
To implement a new substantive mission focus, the IC needs to create Community-wide substantive analytic/collection centers that would deal with major threats to our national security (i.e., terrorism) and major regional/country areas (i.e., China). Such centers must be truly Community-wide organizations. They should be:
Responsible for substantively managing IC-wide analysis and collection on their respective issue areas. This means that the centers would be in charge of the Community’s analysis on their issues, and receive and direct all IC collection against these issues.
Populated by substantive analytic experts and collection discipline/system experts from across the IC. These officers, while working for the director of the center, would be performing the functions of their home component/agency within an IC setting. Such an arrangement would improve collection by directly connecting the collection components/agencies to the substantive analytic efforts of the IC.
Headed by officers working for the DCI.
Members of the national-level requirements, analytic, and collection boards: the Mission Requirements Board, the National Intelligence Analysis and Production Board, and the National Intelligence Collection Board. The analytic and collection agencies would become advisors, instead of members, to these boards.
Advisors, providing direct input, to the DCI’s Community program and budget process. This arrangement would further ensure that funding for analytic and collection issues is appropriately prioritized within the IC budget and supports the DCI’s strategic direction for the IC.
The centers, in turn, would be managed by a centralized IC corporation, supported by multiple subsidiaries. This central corporation would help the IC become a “real” entity; not the loose grouping of separately managed multiple agencies that it is today. The centralizing organization—the corporation—should be the Central Intelligence Agency, but not the CIA as it is organized today. The new CIA would be driven by the centers, not the existing directorates, and have an IC-wide focus and mission.
The CIA would be reorganized by making the IC centers the major sub-units, comparable to today’s directorates. The centers would not be located within an existing CIA directorate. The Directorates of Intelligence (DI), Operations (DO), and Science and Technology (DS&T) would continue, but the centers (separate from the directorates) would be the substantive analytic/collection focal points within the CIA and the entire IC. The other intelligence agencies—and the DI, DO, and DS&T—would, in effect, work for these centers and provide people to man them. These new CIA centers would represent a radical departure from the way the CIA—and the IC—operates and is managed today.
The IC corporation, the CIA, would need a few other adjustments to enable it to manage the new centers effectively. The DCI, as head of the corporation (CIA) and all of its subsidiaries (NSA, NIMA, etc.), must be tied directly to his Community staff; therefore, the Office of the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence for Community Management (DDCI/CM) should be moved into CIA proper. The CIA would then have two Deputy Directors of Central Intelligence (DDCIs):
One DDCI would manage the IC-wide substantive analytic/collection centers. This DDCI would also be responsible for the CIA directorates (DO, DI, DS&T) and other functions/activities performed by the CIA’s operationally-related components (such as the mission support offices).
A second DDCI would manage IC-wide processes, including the requirements, analytic, and collection boards; and the IC-wide strategic planning, policy, program, and budget processes. This DDCI would also be responsible for other IC-wide functions/activities, such as those conducted in the offices of the Assistant DCI for Analysis and Production, the Assistant DCI for Collection, Congressional Affairs, the General Counsel, and the Inspector General.
Together, the two DDCIs would be accountable to the DCI to assure the complete integration of intelligence analysis and collection needs into IC-wide processes that strategically, as well as operationally, lead and manage intelligence activities and resources.
DCI in Charge
To make the IC-wide centers and the reorganized CIA a reality, the DCI must truly be the head of the entire Community. This would require the DCI to receive additional authorities over IC personnel, agency directors, and budget. Without such new authorities, the centers and the revamped CIA would not be able to function, and today’s reality would continue—with no one person in charge of the IC and no one person held accountable for its successes and failures. Specifically, the DCI would need the authority to:
Move any IC employee anywhere in the Community at any time. The centers must be populated with qualified experts from across IC agencies. The DCI must be able to direct IC agencies to provide the officers necessary for the centers to function properly. This would not require a uniform personnel system across the IC; it would, however, require new legislation.
Hire/remove IC agency heads in consultation with the Secretary of Defense. If the DCI is to be in charge, the agency heads must work for the DCI and managerially be subordinate to the DCI. This arrangement would reverse today’s situation where the Secretary of Defense selects IC agency heads in consultation with the DCI. New legislation would be needed to effect this change.
Move funding within or across IC agencies at any time with Congressional approval. While the DCI already has the authority to propose the annual IC budget to the President and the Congress, he also would need the independent ability to move funding around in the year of execution. At present, the Secretary of Defense must also approve such “reprogrammings” because most of the IC funding is appropriated to him. The DCI cannot be in charge of the IC if he must ask the Secretary of Defense to let him reprogram Community money. This would not necessarily require appropriating IC funding to the DCI; it might be accomplished by delegating the Secretary of Defense’s authority over IC funding to the DCI, either by Presidential direction or by legislation.
“Jointness” Within the IC
With the above adjustments, this proposal would roughly create an IC version of the Department of Defense’s joint military command structure, where the JCS, the regional Combatant Commanders, and the services function together. In the IC, the DCI’s staff under the DDCI and DDCI/CM would carry out functions comparable to the JCS; the new CIA centers would be equivalent to the combatant commanders; and the CIA directorates and the other IC agencies would represent the services.
This type of jointness could also help the DCI attract topnotch officers to his IC staff and the centers, by designating some of the positions in these organizations as “joint,” comparable to the way the military does in the JCS and combat commander staffs. If having served in such a joint IC position were required for higher-level positions within the IC agencies, hopefully the best and brightest would apply.
The changes recommended in this paper would fundamentally alter how the IC actually functions, making substantive national security missions/issues/threats the driving managerial force across the IC, and creating organized entities with someone in charge who is responsible for Community-wide efforts against specific national security missions. This arrangement would dramatically reduce the intelligence collection (stovepipe) management and organizational orientation of the IC. Moreover, it would place a DCI with expanded authorities at the top of an organization, the Central Intelligence Agency, that has an IC-wide (corporate) mission, responsibility, and authority.
Larry C. Kindsvater is the Executive Director for Intelligence Community Affairs.