Intelligence community to act as one

CHICAGO ' The intelligence community's move to a network-centric environment should receive a boost in the next year as two avenues of change move closer together.

The first effort involves training younger analysts to not only look for information , but to find meaning in the data. At the same time, officials want to assist middle managers in using new methods to analyze information.

Once the analysts understand how to find useful information, they must view the entire intelligence community as one enterprise and share what they found through collaborative work spaces, such as Intellipedia, blogs and the developing A-Space initiative.

'We have to make the intelligence community an enterprise with the same broad mission,' said Thomas Fingar, deputy director for national intelligence for analysis in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). 'The goal is not to take 18,000 analysts and put them in the same room, but find a better way to keep them in their centers of expertise, but still sharing information.'

Fingar, speaking at the Analytical Transformation Conference, sponsored by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, also said the intelligence community wants to develop a distributed network that would incorporate different layers of information.

'Each person would work on layers that are available to all others so now we would have that 'ah-ha' moment,' Fingar said. 'We must improve the analytical tradecraft with training programs to ensure the quality of work continues to improve.'

To accomplish that, the intelligence community started a course called Analysis 101, he said. It will provide the same training to all new analysts.

Fingar said Analysis 101 began earlier this year. By December, 700 students will finish the coursework, and the course will be open to 1,200 students next year.

'We are addressing shortcomings that were identified by Congress and others and through our evaluations,' Fingar said. 'We need to utilize alternative analysis more and other areas.'

In addition to training, ODNI is leading work on several initiatives to build the infrastructure to enable collaboration.

ODNI kicked off a project late last month to reduce the amount of metadata each database uses. The effort, called Catalyst, will try to bring the hundreds of metadata tags down to five or six, said Mike Wertheimer, deputy DNI for analytic transformation and technology.

'We want to filter out superfluous information,' he said. 'This is totally experimental.'

For the next three months ODNI and the National Counterterrorism Center will apply Catalyst to the six databases the center runs, put real events through the about five metadata categories and see what comes out, starting in early 2008, Wertheimer said.

ODNI also issued analyst standards and will issue sourcing standards, Wertheimer added.

Finally, ODNI is expanding its Research and Development Center (RDec) to unclassified users instead of only those with clearances.

RDec lets users test analytical tools on a closed system. Wertheimer said they have about 100 nodes on the classified network, which is oversubscribed by intelligence employees, but there are not enough people on it to test the tools for the entire community.

'If we run an unclassified network parallel to the classified one, I think we can bring enough people on to test tools,' he said. 'Once we agree on a tool, we will certify and accredit it once instead of 16 times. We can just plug the tool in for the entire community.'

The RDec work started this year, but Wertheimer wasn't sure when ODNI would expand it to the unclassified network.

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