Intell takes new approach to training

CHICAGO -- The intelligence community is developing a SWAT team of analysts to respond quickly to worldwide events.

The first class of analysts who went through the initial training year of the Rapid Analytic Support and Expeditionary Response (RASER) program in 2006 deployed to three mission areas this summer, and the second class will begin this fall, said Mike Wertheimer, assistant deputy director for national intelligence for analytic transformation and technology at the Office of the Director for National Intelligence (ODNI). The analysts go to a major local law enforcement agency, the Defense Department’s Southern Command and then to their agencies’ headquarters for four months each during the second year of the program, he said.

Wertheimer said the intelligence community is taking analysts with less than five years of experience and putting them through a two-year program to build interdisciplinary teams to act as an information channel between the intelligence community and federal organizations worldwide.

RASER is one of many approaches ODNI and others are implementing to attract, retain and better train intelligence analysts.

Other initiatives include moving to a pay-for-performance system that matches the Defense Department’s National Security Personnel System, increased training for young analysts and middle managers, and better diversifying the workforce.

Wertheimer and other intelligence community officials, speaking at the Analytical Transformation Conference, sponsored by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, agreed that addressing the workforce, its culture and the promotion of new approaches to collaboration and data collection and analysis are crucial to transforming the federal intelligence effort.

“We previously had a great focus on publish or perish and that led to a reward system that recognizes the individual not the collective effort,” said James Clapper, undersecretary of Defense for intelligence and director of Defense intelligence. “We must focus on the quality not the quantity of what analysts produce. We need metrics that will show the impact of the reports.”

Clapper added that analysts must be trained throughout their careers on how to think critically and creatively in addition to focusing on long- and short-term priorities.

He also said using academic centers of excellence, developing analytics courses at colleges and universities for would-be analysts, and continuing to make the intelligence process collaborative are important steps to transformation.

“We need to allow collectors and analysts to access unclassified information on the classified network,” Clapper said. “I’ve become a big proponent of open source because many times more relevant information is found through open source.”

He also said the security clearance process must be improved to address many of these issues.

“We have to understand the foreign culture and heritage and that runs afoul of the security clearance process,” Clapper said. “It is a dilemma we are trying to resolve.”

Clapper said DOD, ODNI and the Office of Management and Budget are working together to simplify the process.

“We have a team of experts figuring out how to rationalize the process and focus on automation to capture and sustain investigations,” Clapper said. “We want to make the in-person investigation the exception not the rule. We need to figure out if we can develop a clean case through automation.”

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