ICITE faces 'cultural resistance'

David Shedd_DIA

Former acting DIA Director David Shedd says it could be five years before ICITE is fully in place.

Bureaucratic resistance is slowing the intelligence community’s adoption of a common IT architecture, according to former acting Defense Intelligence Agency Director David Shedd.

"The single biggest problem" for adopting the IC Information Technology Enterprise (ICITE) is "cultural resistance" from intelligence officials clinging to the IT status quo, Shedd told FCW on March 3. "I don't even think it’s technological, and it’s not budget."

The former DIA chief had some advice for officials interested in quelling that bureaucratic resistance: "The mistake some make is simply [to] go with the CIO," he said, but "the CIO does not have the power to change that culture." Officials should focus instead, Shedd said, on building support for ICITE among its practitioners – those in charge of data collection and analytics.

ICITE is a quest begun in 2012 for a single, standards-based IT architecture across intelligence agencies. The linchpin of ICITE is a move to store IC user data in the cloud.

Shedd said that it would be "easily five years" before ICITE is fully in place, meaning military services can rapidly share information through the platform. In the meantime, incremental capabilities, such as integrating the services' intelligence offices with ICITE, will be achieved over the next two to three years, he said.

It will be important for the Defense Department and IC CIOs to be clear about their data needs for ICITE, added Shedd, who spoke to FCW after his appearance at an intelligence conference in Arlington, Va. "The services are dependent on IC data, so you better have those two CIOs … obviously talking to each other."

Later in the conference, which was hosted by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper touted ICITE as a means of promoting intelligence integration.

"While we started ICITE to save money, we're continuing with it because it promotes integration, [and] improves security and sharing, all at once," Clapper said.

For Shedd, collaboration between military and civilian intelligence analysts could be greatly improved. The offices of the DNI and undersecretary of Defense for intelligence need to work more closely together, and mistrust between mid-level bureaucrats needs to dissipate, he told the conference. "It's a sense that each side feels like the other one – at the mid-level bureaucracy, not in the leadership … is sort of eating each other's resources up," he later told FCW.

About the Author

Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Prior to joining FCW, he was a reporter and editor at Smart Grid Today, where he covered everything from cyber vulnerabilities in the U.S. electric grid to the national energy policies of Britain and Mexico. His reporting on a range of global issues has appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, The Economist, The Washington Diplomat and The Washington Post.

Lyngaas is an active member of the National Press Club, where he served as chairman of the Young Members Committee. He earned his M.A. in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and his B.A. in public policy from Duke University.

Click here for previous articles by Lyngaas, or connect with him on Twitter: @snlyngaas.


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