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CIA Chief Operating Officer Speaks to Annuitants at Central Intelligence Retiree Association (CIRA) Event

9 March 2018


“It gets into your blood, working here at CIA; it’s unlike any other place.”
~ CIA Chief Operating Officer (COO), Brian Bulatao

On Wednesday, 7 March, COO Brian Bulatao addressed a very special audience of former CIA officers. The Central Intelligence Retiree Association (CIRA) hosted its quarterly luncheon, attended by more than 150 Agency retirees who were eager to meet Bulatao, the man who came to CIA with both a military and business background, and a lifelong friendship with CIA Director Mike Pompeo that began at West Point. Mr. Bulatao shared with the group how the two met on their first day on campus and became fast friends, parting ways after graduation only to reconnect at Harvard where Brian was studying to get an MBA and Director Pompeo was in Law School.

Bulatao’s talk focused on his new role at the Agency and the positive changes that have taken place across CIA over the last year. One such change Bulatao discussed was the Director’s focus on pushing decision making down to the lowest level.

“If there is a group of highly skilled officers in a room, does it make sense to have the DCIA or the COO make the final decision?” Bulatao asked the retirees. “No, let the experts working the issue decide.” When a former officer asked about the risks that accompany that type of thinking, Bulatao replied that if the work is great, if the preparation is exquisite, you have to accept some failure if you take more risks.

Bulatao also discussed his top priorities, better known as his “High Five,” which include streamlining the hiring process; taking a systematic look at the alignment of strategy, staffing, funding, and other resources; making CIA’s contracting process more effective and efficient; ensuring that the Agency as a whole is positioned to invest in and lead in cutting-edge technologies; and finding innovative ways to protect CIA officers’ identities and operations in the digital age.

The CIA retirees had some direct questions for Bulatao about the impact of budget cuts at other agencies on CIA’s mission and current efforts to recruit the best and the brightest. Bulatao explained that CIA has very low attrition once people get in the door at CIA, but emphasized the need to focus on getting the right people with the right skills in the right jobs. He said that it’s important for the public to understand that CIA needs people who are top notch in professions that you might not think of or see in the movies: finance experts, engineers, and lawyers, to name a few. What unites CIA’s diverse workforce, he said, is its relentless work toward one great mission: keeping America safe.

Before Bulatao took the stage to speak to the retirees, his son told him that there would be really smart people in the room, so he should keep his talk to five minutes. He didn’t, of course, but he made sure the last words spoken were of appreciation for their support and commitment to CIA.


Posted: Mar 09, 2018 05:28 PM
Last Updated: Mar 09, 2018 05:41 PM