Committee sets goals for open-source info

The intelligence community has set strategic goals for how to analyze the constantly growing amount of unclassified, publicly available information for intelligence purposes.

The National Open Source Committee, whose members include representatives of the government’s intelligence agencies, announced four goals today for using publicly available data, which officials call open source. They made the announcement at the Open Source Conference 2008 in Washington.

The goals are universal domain access to allow for the greatest possible availability of the data, an integrated mission for its use across government, an increase in expertise in using open-source data and a governance model that ensures that its use aligns with the priorities of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Open-source data is information that is publicly available and legally obtainable, including pamphlets, Web sites, videos, white papers, news articles and academic reports. It has become an increasing focus of ODNI.

Officials also discussed the intelligence-gathering opportunities that new online media present, and they described a prototype system they are testing for tracking open-source capabilities and requirements in the intelligence community.

Officials say open-source information is useful as primary and complementary sources that can give context to intelligence gathered by people, by intercepting communications or through imaging.

“Three years ago, we were still trying to convince people that open source had intelligence value," said Douglas Naquin, the committee’s chairman and director of ODNI’s Open Source Center. “Now we just have to take advantage of these conditions and institutionalize the conversation so it happens regularly.”

Glenn Gaffney, deputy director of national intelligence for collection at ODNI, echoed those sentiments in his keynote speech at the conference. “Open source is one of those absolutely critical strengths that we must continue to develop,” he said.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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