disciplines and to suggest ways for NGA to obtain the scientific knowledge and analytical skills it needs over the next 20 years. The specific charge to the committee is given in Box 1.1.


This report is the second of two requested by NGA. The first report, New Research Directions for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency: Workshop Report (NRC, 2010a), summarized workshop discussions of new research directions for geospatial intelligence. The workshop considered 10 subject areas, including NGA’s five core areas and five crosscutting themes that are likely to become increasingly important to NGA over the next 15 years. Definitions of these areas, slightly refined from those given in NRC (2010a), are given in Box 1.2. This report builds from the workshop results, analyzing workforce trends and education and training programs in the 10 core and emerging areas.

BOX 1.1
Committee Charge

An ad hoc committee will examine the need for geospatial intelligence expertise in the United States compared with the production of experts in the relevant disciplines, and discuss possible ways to ensure adequate availability of the needed expertise. In its report the committee will

1. Examine the current availability of U.S. experts in geospatial intelligence disciplines and approaches and the anticipated U.S. availability of this expertise for the next 20 years. The disciplines and approaches to be considered include NGA’s five core areas and promising research areas identified in the May 2010 NRC workshop [see Box 1.2].

2. Identify any gaps in the current or future availability of this expertise relative to NGA’s need.

3. Describe U.S. academic, government laboratory, industry, and professional society training programs for geospatial intelligence disciplines and analytical skills.

4. Suggest ways to build the necessary knowledge and skills to ensure an adequate U.S. supply of geospatial intelligence experts for the next 20 years, including NGA intramural training programs or NGA support for training programs in other venues.

The report will not include recommendations on policy issues such as funding, the creation of new programs or initiatives, or government organization.

The committee began its analysis by characterizing the 10 core and emerging areas, including their evolution, the scope of university programs offering classes and/or degrees, and the body of knowledge and skills that are generally taught. Information for this overview was drawn from professional societies, university websites, and the committee members’ own knowledge and experience. Next, the committee assessed the availability of experts in the core and emerging areas over the next 20 years (Task 1). The committee considered two sources of potential employees for NGA: (1) new graduates entering the workforce and (2) individuals currently employed in occupations that require similar knowledge and/or skills. Statistics on new graduates were obtained from the Department of Education, which tracks the number of degrees conferred by level and field of study and by citizenship. Employment statistics for more than 800 occupations were obtained from the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, and citizenship of employed individuals was determined from Census data. Based on the education and skill requirements laid out in NGA occupation descriptions and the committee’s evaluation of the core and emerging areas, 164 instructional programs (Appendix C) and 36 occupations (Appendix D) were deemed relevant to NGA. Although a few professional societies collect degree and employment information for some of the subject areas (e.g., geophysics, photogrammetry, remote sensing), the data are less comprehensive and consistent than the government statistics and were not analyzed in this report.

For Task 2, the committee was asked to identify gaps in the current or future availability of geospatial intelligence expertise relative to NGA’s needs. NGA’s current needs were characterized using information provided by the agency or posted on its website (Box 1.3). The NGA job listings and position descriptions provide a measure of the knowledge and skills the agency is currently seeking, and the universities where NGA recruits provide an indication of where the agency is looking for this knowledge and skills. Based on discussions with NGA managers, the committee focused on science and analysis positions (Box 1.4), not on management or support positions (e.g., administrative assistants, database administrators). Future needs were estimated from the age distribution of agency scientists and analysts and the assumption that hiring

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