Intell community's portal follows Army's lead

CHICAGO -- The intelligence community is borrowing a page from the Army’s book on building an online collaboration portal.

By December, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence will launch A-Space, a collaborative information-sharing environment, based on the standards the Army and the Defense Department are using for the Army and Defense Knowledge Online portals.

Dale Meyerrose, ODNI chief information officer, said Sept. 5 that the effort behind A-Space will use what the Army already created.

“We want the intelligence analysts to rally around A-Space and create an interactive workspace to solve problems,” Meyerrose said at the Analytic Transformation conference sponsored by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance.

Meyerrose added that he rejected the first two ideas for A-Space. The first suggestion was for ODNI to create an A-Local-Area Network and the second was for an A-Net. But Meyerrose didn’t want to build another new site or network. When someone suggested the A-Space concept, Meyerrose said he recognized the right approach.

“The goal of A-Space is to make information technology invisible to the analyst,” he said.

A-Space will be a virtual environment that will link all 16 intelligence agencies.

“It is a way to tunnel through agency firewalls to connect data and people and ideas,” said Mike Wertheimer, assistant deputy director of national intelligence for analytic transformation and technology at ODNI.

He said A-Space will include by December the ability to search all the intelligence information that the agencies make available via Web services and e-mail. ODNI will use a service-oriented architecture through a thin-client setup, Wertheimer added.

Robert Cardillo, deputy director for analysis at the Defense Intelligence Agency, the executive agency for A-Space, said the portal will enable information sharing, lower barriers to collaboration, standardize analytic processes and bring value to intelligence customers.

The test will be limited to top-secret information, but Cardillo expects secret and unclassified information to become available as the portal develops.

Meanwhile, Meyerrose said the final policy detailing how ODNI and the Defense Department will certify and accredit systems is due by Dec. 31.

ODNI and DOD agreed on the basics in June, but have been working on the policy’s details since then, Meyerrose said.

“We have the language sorted out and the intelligence community has signed off,” he said. “The policy will not only be for security, but tell agencies they must balance mission, cost and risk.”

Meyerrose added that the policy will discuss common criteria for what goes into certification and accreditation and specifics regarding reciprocity among the communities.

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