Intell teams get ready for action

New program offers intensive training for early-career intelligence analysts

Change from the bottom up

Now that 60 percent of the intelligence community’s workforce has less than five years of experience, managers anticipate significant changes.

Thomas Fingar, deputy director of national intelligence for analysis, described the new intelligence workforce in a speech he delivered on behalf of Mike McConnell, director of national intelligence.

Fingar, who read McConnell’s speech at a recent conference in Chicago, said young employees expect to collaborate. “We have hired young people to challenge the supervisors on how we do our business.”
Early-career analysts are quick to come up with new ideas and speak up for themselves, Fingar said, adding that the intelligence community must balance new analysts’ youthful enthusiasm with experience and perspective.

- Jason Miller

The intelligence community says it is building better, faster and more-agile analysts, experts whom the government can deploy anywhere at any time. The Rapid Analytic Support and Expeditionary Response (RASER) program started in October 2006 with a class of eight analysts. The government is selecting members to fill a second class.

The Office of the National Director of Intelligence (ODNI), which runs RASER, says the innovative training program uses technology to better analyze intelligence and improve the way the community
collects intelligence.

“We need a new kind of analyst who knows how to work together and alone,” said Rene Novakoff, chief of theater intelligence research at the Defense Department’s Southern Command. The intelligence community seeks young people who “don’t need a lot of management but are eager to take suggestions.”

The Southern Command was one of the first federal intelligence agencies to receive a RASER team. Novakoff said team
members who worked at her base became experts in a short time and wrote and published papers.

Mike Wertheimer, assistant deputy director of national intelligence for analytic transformation and technology at ODNI, said the intelligence community is putting analysts with less than five years’ experience through the two-year program.

The program builds interdisciplinary teams that function as information channels between the intelligence community and federal organizations worldwide.

During intelligence boot camp, students listen to lectures and tutorials from experts. They also have a course in which they study several pieces of information on the same topic and offer ideas about how to improve the agency’s information analysis, Novakoff said. “The future is promising. We are seeing a lot more applicants this year. We need more folks to oversee them.”

In the second year, students rotate for four months each among three organizations: a major local law enforcement agency, the Southern Command and agency headquarters.

“This is about learning to do analysis in a hyper way,” Wertheimer said. “Young people want to be challenged, and we have to make sure they are.” He added that “RASER convinced me that young people can learn in one year what usually takes four.”

DOD officials said addressing workforce and culture issues and new approaches to collaborating and collecting data 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 to think critically and creatively. He also said using academic centers of excellence, developing analytics courses at colleges and universities, and continuing to make the intelligence process collaborative are important steps in transforming the intelligence community.


  • 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