Redrawing the map

When an agency's mission is to support national security with timely, relevant and accurate geospatial intelligence — with customers ranging from the White House and military leaders to Congress and law enforcement officials, transformation affects more than a few central users.

That's why the National Imagery and Mapping Agency has been actively trying to improve its business processes, information technology investments and customer service using transformation as its "hallmark theme," said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James Clapper Jr., the agency's director.

"We mean to try to anticipate the future," Clapper said. "Our trajectory is designed to strengthen the organizational structure and take it well into the 21st century. We must forge the environment by constantly driving future technical trends and applying them to operational needs, inserting technology rapidly and providing relevant geospatial intelligence, services and solutions."

Clapper released the agency's "Statement of Strategic Intent" in January, which includes 10 strategic goals focused on transformation, including:

n Adapting the agency's analysis, production, business practices and technology to support information and decision superiority.

n Enhancing and promoting collaboration with NIMA's partners and customers by migrating to an all-digital environment based on information interoperability.

n Expanding its research and development investments to capitalize on breakthrough and enabling technologies, with the goal of using 7 percent of NIMA's total budget on R&D.

n Using technology to provide seamless, application-independent access to geospatial intelligence, which includes enabling customers to electronically "self-serve," custom-tailoring products and overlaying intelligence data from myriad sources on the agency's framework.

NIMA's ongoing transformation efforts have been aided by everyone's involvement, with no single office tackling the mission alone, said Scott Cragg, NIMA's chief information officer and director of business transformation.

Cragg said he was charged with capitalizing on NIMA's resources to enhance its business practices, which is in line with departmentwide challenges expressed by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

"The status quo is not what is sought," Cragg said. "We need to partner with the other services and industry. We do our business well, but how can we transform to do it better and expand?"

Technology is an enabler for transformation and has a "very large role to play in all of this," Cragg said. "It's one thing to do something well manually, but another thing to automate and do it well, then re-deploy savings."

One of Cragg's immediate goals is to "further institutionalize" the role of the NIMA CIO as a major contributor for decision-making and oversight. Cragg, who became the agency's first independent CIO last April, is still working to "draw out the benefit of having that type of stakeholder in the organization."

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