Congress pushes intelligence reform

The Senate last week released a report on the fiscal 2001 intelligence authorization bill that took aim at several high-profile, costly intelligence programs and outlined a plan for rebuilding an intelligence community it says has been overwhelmed by the Information Age.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence tagged the rebuilding of the National Security Agency as Congress' top, near-term priority. NSA spearheads the intelligence community's signals intelligence activities.

"The NSA systematically has sacrificed infrastructure modernization in order to meet day-to-day intelligence requirements," the committee concluded in its report. "Consequently, the organization begins the 21st century lacking the technological infrastructure and human resources needed even to maintain the status quo, much less meet emerging challenges."

Although the precise budget of the NSA remains classified, the report stated that the committee plans to realign funding as a "down payment" to help the agency meets its future requirements.

The report praised NSA's director, Air Force Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden, for his willingness to embrace reform, particularly by reaching out to the private sector.

Shortly after taking over as NSA director, Hayden called for "100 Days of Change" at the agency ["NSA playing IT catch-up," Federal Computer Week, Dec. 6, 1999]. The move came after a group of NSA managers wrote a scathing report in October that depicted an agency mired in bureaucratic conflict, suffering from poor leadership and losing touch with the government clients it serves.

NSA recently completed a massive renovation of its Operations 1 Building at its Fort Meade, Md., headquarters. The agency modernized the entire 129,000-square-foot facility by installing communications upgrades for more than 1,000 NSA personnel — including adding Internet connections for at least 10 percent of the workstations — and by developing an Operations Watch Center.

MORE INFO

"Senate sheds light on State security problems" [FCW.com, May 10, 2000]

"NSA playing IT catch-up" [Federal Computer Week, Dec. 6, 1999]

"NSA's privacy pledges not enough for some in Congress" [FCW.com, March 1, 2000]

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

BY Dan Verton
May 10, 2000

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