Open-source intell gets governance

The director of the Central Intelligence Agency announced today the establishment of a board of governors that will set priorities and strategies for the intelligence community’s use of publicly available data.

CIA Director Michael Hayden said the new board of governors for open-source intelligence will be a forum that will meet quarterly, with its first session before the end of the year.Through its governance, users of open-source data will consider things such as information technology strategy and IT policy, centralization of open-source services, as well as standardization.

“The idea is to set direction and priorities in a way that allows…each of the elements of the open-source enterprise to develop and make the most of their capabilities,” Hayden said in a keynote speech today at the Open Source Conference 2008 in Washington.

Open-source data is information that is publicly available and legally obtainable. It includes pamphlets, Web sites, videos, white papers, news articles and academic reports.

Hayden also cited gains he said the government's Open Source Center has made since its inception approximately three years ago. He said the center's director advises him, and open-source data has been part of the daily intelligence briefing to the president.

In addition, the Open Source Center now provides the White House Situation Room with 340 real-time feeds from television broadcasts around the world and that 15,000 people regularly use opensource.gov, the Open Source Center’s Web site, Hayden said.

Hayden said there was a commitment to strengthen the open-source discipline but acknowledged that budget decisions must be made on how to pay for the necessary information technology investments for open-source reporting.

“We are committed to that and it’s a balancing act…we just have to do the best we can,” he added. “We do recognize we’re digging out of a deficit here. This is probably one discipline where we have underinvested and we have to play some catch-up.”

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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