NIMA, NSA Increase Collaboration

Information sharing and collaboration among the main "eyes and ears" of the Defense Department's intelligence community are on the rise, officials say.

The efforts are part of the "all-source intelligence" vision that is the defense and intelligence communities' goal, according to retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James Clapper Jr., director of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency.

NIMA employees have dramatically increased their presence at National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, Md., recently and Clapper said he would like to see even more collaboration between the two agencies, either physically or, in the future, virtually.

"There's huge potential for the convergence of imagery, geospatial and signals intelligence," and for collaboration between NIMA and NSA, he said.

The agencies are working on data and systems integration so that NIMA staff stationed at NSA headquarters can query their home databases and vice versa, said Teri Dempsey, NIMA's chief geospatial intelligence standards officer.

Increased collaboration and information sharing between NSA and NIMA also will better serve the CIA, the U.S. government's all-source intelligence analyst, Clapper said.

An NSA spokesperson would not comment directly on the increased collaboration with NIMA, but did say that the agency has "deployed numerous additional liaisons to other agencies and to military commands involved in the war against terrorism."

Elsewhere in NIMA news, the Interceptor confirmed that the agency provided the declassified satellite pictures of Iraq that Secretary of State Colin Powell presented last week to the United Nations Security Council.

Powell presented images that he said were 15 munitions bunkers, four of which contained active chemical munitions. NIMA provided the satellite images to CIA Director George Tenet, who declassified them for Powell's presentation to the United Nations.

IA Guidance Moving Slowly

The Pentagon issued a new information assurance (IA) directive late last year that provides a basic framework for protecting information. The problem is that DOD Directive 8500.1, which went into effect Oct. 24, 2002, did not come with any instructions for carrying it out, and that guidance is now held up in the DOD chief information officer's office. In late January, DOD 8500.2, the detailed instructions on how to carry out the policy and how it will be enforced, was delivered to DOD CIO John Stenbit in hopes that he would approve it within about a week, said Donald Jones, a member of the DOD CIO's IA directorate.

But 8500.2 still has not been signed and may not be for a while, because Stenbit is out of pocket the next few weeks, according to a DOD spokesman.

"It is in the front office, but has not reached Mr. Stenbit's desk yet," the spokesman said, adding that there is nothing "dramatic" in the instructions.

"It provides sets of baseline 'IA controls' that must be implemented for all DOD information systems," the spokesman said. "The controls vary depending on whether a system is classified, sensitive, or has information that is released to the public — and also on needs for system availability and integrity."

Still, that doesn't help the military services and DOD agencies that are anxiously awaiting the instructions. "The big issue has been to get the instructions out," Jones told the Interceptor late last month. "They can't implement the policies in 8500.1 until they get 8500.2...but that requires careful coordination" on many levels.

Chopping Up the Cards

DOD Comptroller Dov Zakheim wants the military services to know that he is serious about cracking down on travel and purchase card fraud.

Since November 1998, Bank of America has charged off Navy accounts totaling almost $17 million and another $12 million in bad debts related to Air Force accounts.

Zakheim said DOD recently canceled another 80,000 cards and is putting specific criteria in place before any new cards are issued.

Zakheim credits the recent success in finding and prosecuting card abusers to DOD's data mining efforts, which he said are second to none in the government. He wouldn't divulge the specific data mining techniques, saying that people would try to circumvent those efforts if they knew the techniques used.

DOD owes it to the taxpayers to stop the abuse of purchase and travel cards, which have been used to buy everything from engagement rings to sporting tickets to cruises, he said. n

Intercept something? Send it to [email protected]


  • Government Innovation Awards
    Government Innovation Awards -

    Congratulations to the 2021 Rising Stars

    These early-career leaders already are having an outsized impact on government IT.

  • Acquisition
    Shutterstock ID 169474442 By Maxx-Studio

    The growing importance of GWACs

    One of the government's most popular methods for buying emerging technologies and critical IT services faces significant challenges in an ever-changing marketplace

Stay Connected