The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), which oversees and directs the work of the 17 agencies and organizations responsible for foreign, military, and domestic intelligence for the United States, has a growing interest in research from the social and behavioral sciences (SBS) that may be beneficial to the Intelligence Community (IC). To develop a systematic understanding of these potential benefits, ODNI requested that the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine conduct a decadal survey of SBS to identify research opportunities that show promise for supporting national security efforts in the next 10 years.
A decadal survey is a method for engaging members of a research community to identify lines of research with the greatest potential utility in the pursuit of a particular goal. The National Academies pioneered this type of survey with a study of ground-based astronomy in 1964.1 Since then, committees appointed by the National Academies have conducted more than 15 decadal surveys. The Decadal Survey of Social and Behavioral Sciences for Applications to National Security represents the first opportunity to apply this approach to SBS. Its purpose is to develop an understanding of the lines of research in these fields that offer the greatest potential to enhance
the capabilities of the IC. To carry out this work, the National Academies appointed the Committee on a Decadal Survey of Social and Behavioral Sciences for Applications to National Security (Decadal Survey Committee); the committee’s charge appears in Appendix A.
The Decadal Survey Committee has pursued many avenues in collecting information about the needs of the IC and relevant cutting-edge research in SBS. As part of its information-gathering process, the committee held a series of six workshops—the first three on October 11, 2017, and the second three on January 24, 2018.2 These workshops, for which planning began early in the committee process, were designed to explore areas about which the committee wished to learn more and to allow the committee to engage with a broad range of experts. The topics selected for the workshops do not necessarily indicate the ultimate direction of the committee’s deliberations. The six topics addressed by the workshops were
- changing sociocultural dynamics and implications for national security,
- emerging trends and methods in international security,
- leveraging advances in social network thinking for national security,
- learning from the science of cognition and perception for decision making,
- workforce development and intelligence analysis, and
- understanding narratives for national security purposes.
Separate steering committees, whose membership included both members of the Decadal Survey Committee and additional experts in the topics to be addressed, were appointed to plan these workshops. Each of these committees was guided by its own charge. All were asked to bring their expertise to bear in identifying specific areas of promising research and experts with deep knowledge who could offer a range of insights.
This Proceedings of a Workshop, prepared by the workshop rapporteur, summarizes the presentations and discussions at the fifth workshop, on workforce development and intelligence analysis.3 This workshop was planned by the Steering Committee on Workforce Development for Intelligence Analysis: A Workshop, whose charge is presented in Box 1-1. The workshop’s purpose was to explore the current state of research on workforce development that has relevance to national security. It should be noted that the steering committee’s role was limited to planning and convening
3 The archived webcast of the workshop and available presentations can be found at http://sites.nationalacademies.org/DBASSE/BBCSS/DBASSE_184654 [April 2018].
the workshop, and that the views contained in this proceedings are those of individual workshop participants and do not necessarily represent the views of all workshop participants, the steering committee, or the National Academies. The agenda for the workshop appears in Appendix B; a list of individuals who attended the three workshops held on January 24, 2018, is presented in Appendix C; and biographical sketches of the steering committee members and speakers are provided in Appendix D.
In an opening session for the three January 24, 2018, workshops, the chair of the Decadal Survey Committee, Paul Sackett, University of Minnesota, and sponsor representative William “Bruno” Millonig, ODNI, provided background information on the objectives for the six workshops.
Sackett observed that the Decadal Survey Committee will rely heavily on input from experts in the communities of national security and behavioral and social science research. Given the breadth of the committee’s charge, he explained, it must cast a wide net, extending well beyond the specific expertise of its members to seek feedback from many sources. He described the six workshops as an important part of the effort to gather ideas. The workshops would support the committee by helping to identify promising research areas and allowing the committee members to engage in discussion with experts in a wide range of areas salient to its work.4
Millonig expressed appreciation to all those contributing to the committee’s work through the workshops and other activities, noting that the participation of the full range of experts in the intelligence and behavioral and social science communities would be needed to make the decadal study successful. His remarks focused on the importance of SBS to the development of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other automated tools. As an example of the value of such research, he noted that research on modeling behaviors and interactions is “fundamental to our ability to move forward [in utilizing these tools].” The research discussed at the workshops, he said, will help the IC understand the current and future contributions of these sciences.
INTRODUCTION TO THE WORKSHOP ON WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYSIS FOR NATIONAL SECURITY PURPOSES
Steering committee chair Noshir Contractor, Northwestern University, opened the workshop with an overview of how the three different presentation panels were structured. He noted that developments in the 21st century are creating a number of challenges for all kinds of jobs, including those in the IC, and that employers are having to rethink how they build and train their workforce and integrate tools into their operations effectively. He explained that the first panel would focus on what is known about building a workforce and what strategies remain useful, with particular attention to selection, training, retention, and leadership development. The second panel, he said, would take a systems view and consider the challenges involved in human–systems integration, collaborative knowledge building, team building, and communication. The final panel, he said, would focus on the future and developing employment trends, such as encouraging diversity in the workforce and accommodating artificial intelligence and autonomous systems.
Ted Clark, CENTRA Technology, Inc., set the stage for the workshop presentations and discussions by describing a typical but fictional workday of an intelligence analyst. First, he provided background on the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), where he had worked for 23 years as a senior manager and analyst. The CIA, he said, is structured around five directorates: analysis, operations, science and technology, digital innovation, and support (human resources). He noted that the CIA had recently created about a dozen mission centers, which are intended to integrate staff from
different directorates around functional and regional issues and create a more collaborative environment.
While the CIA currently lists 17 different “analysis” positions on its website, Clark focused on two types of core analytic positions: regional and functional. Regional analysts, he explained, work on political, economic, military, or leadership issues in a specific region of the world, such as China, Russia, or the Middle East. Functional analysts, he said, work on developing expertise in a certain function or system, such as fighter aircraft, naval systems, nuclear issues, or missile technology, to provide insight for counterterrorism, counterproliferation, and/or counterintelligence purposes.
Clark stated that the analyst’s job is to provide timely and unbiased analysis to policy makers. For example, analysts within the IC may have the opportunity to write one- to two-page memos for the President’s Daily Brief (PDB). However, he said, analysts write memos and longer papers primarily for other senior policy makers in the U.S. government, such as cabinet officials, senators, ambassadors, and assistant secretaries in nearly every U.S. government agency.
To further explain some tasks and demands of an intelligence analyst, Clark described a fictional workday for “Sarah,” a relatively junior analyst, who had served as a Russian military analyst at the CIA for the past 3 years. According to Clark, an analyst like Sarah would be in the office early and begin her day by reading electronic mail and messages, or what the CIA calls traffic, which consists of classified and unclassified material tailored to the analyst’s role—in Sarah’s case, following Russian military developments in Syria. He explained that Sarah might identify two or three highlights from her reading to discuss at the morning team meeting. In preparation, she would ask herself such questions as the following: “Is the new information credible? Will there be more reports coming soon? Is there other information that suggests this new information is not correct or lacks details? Does this new information potentially change the analytic line [i.e., what the CIA has been saying about this particular issue in its publications]?” Clark noted that at this point, Sarah might make secure phone calls to intelligence collectors or other analysts to gather additional information.
At the morning team meeting, Clark continued, Sarah would discuss with other analysts and her manager any new information on a range of Russian military issues. The team would consider and debate ideas that should be brought to the attention of senior management and policy makers. Clark suggested that Sarah might highlight a specific intelligence report that she found particularly compelling and propose a “current intelligence product” based on the new information.
Clark explained that after the team meeting, two things might occur: (1) Sarah might receive a phone call from an analyst in another office who wanted to use the same information Sarah had highlighted, but he pro-
posed developing a PDB memo on Syrian military developments with the information; and/or (2) Sarah’s manager might ask her to write a one-page memo as an update for the U.S. Department of State’s assistant secretary for Russia prior to his/her departure for Moscow the following day. In the latter case, Clark continued, presumably after some negotiations with the other analyst, Sarah would draft a memo for the assistant secretary by noon, and could work on the PDB later. She might suggest that she and the other analyst coauthor both memos.
According to Clark, preparing a memo requires coordination among team members and any coauthors. Sarah would prepare an initial draft quickly so she could show it to the team and coauthors for comment. Once they had agreed on the text, Clark explained, other agencies in the broader IC might be asked to coordinate. Several layers of editorial review would follow. Clark added that Sarah would need to be present for all edits to explain her reasoning, defend her analysis, accept critique, and rewrite passages as necessary. He noted that it would also be Sarah’s responsibility to inform coauthors of any substantial or analytic changes. He pointed out that Sarah’s name would not appear on the memo; it would be an IC analytic product.
Clark contended that writing intelligence analysis, like most writing, is hard work. Sarah needs to “hook” the policy maker within the first couple of sentences, or he/she will turn the page and move on to the next item. Sarah also needs to answer the “what” and, more important, the “so what” questions as she writes. Given that the assistant secretary likely is an expert on Russia, this is no easy task. Similarly, Sarah needs to provide intelligence reporting to support her analytic line of analysis, and if she has some “traffic” indicating otherwise, she needs to draw attention to that as well. Learning to write and think this way, argued Clark, requires practice, training, mentoring, guidance, good management, and more practice.
Clark emphasized that to succeed as an IC analyst, Sarah must become a master of substance, navigate and mobilize a complex intelligence bureaucracy, and understand policy makers’ needs. Sarah’s day might be extended, Clark suggested, if she were required to present her memo to PDB briefers responsible for assembling intelligence briefings for senior leaders the following morning. Clark pointed out that even though Sarah’s memo was prepared for one specific policy maker, it is quite possible that others would want to read it.
Upon finishing this description of an analyst’s day on the job, Clark asked the workshop participants if they had any questions. A participant asked about the CIA’s new mission center format. Clark replied that the mission centers were created to improve collaboration and access to information, all with the intent of improving mission performance and effectiveness. He suggested that as a result, analysts may spend more time
working across the IC on analytic products than in the past, which may take time away from other tasks. However, he sees the value in incorporating more voices into analytic products.
Another workshop participant asked Clark to explain why a memo might not be given to senior leaders. Clark responded that, among various possible reasons, it might be determined that the information was not new or useful. Another reason might be the arrival of new information that required revisiting the analysis. Clark pointed out that if the author of such a memo believes it should go forward, he or she should be tenacious and make the case with team members and his or her manager.
Another question concerned whether there are any tools or technologies available to support the analyst’s work. Clark observed that there are many tools for collecting and analyzing information. He noted that in some cases, an analyst might not know or understand how intelligence information is being collected or what validity it has. He pointed out, however, that understanding the collection process is invaluable, and that is where networking with intelligence collectors and other analysts can provide useful background for one’s own analysis and reporting. He also suggested that workshop participants talk to current analysts to gain a better sense of existing analytic tools, and highlighted the need for additional tools to help sift through the large amount of information that is available from social media.
Several participants asked about the nature of analytic teams. Clark explained that analysts spend an average of 3 years on a given analytic team; if an analyst finds a particular niche, however, he or she can continue working on that region or function for many additional years. He added that moving to a new team and new subject area depends on a combination of factors, including an analyst’s preference and the current needs and demands of the agency and its mission. An analyst has a primary team for daily interactions and another set of ad hoc teams, he elaborated. The ad hoc teams, he said, can include intelligence collectors and other analysts at different agencies within the IC. In their first year, analysts focus on their primary team and on learning the intelligence bureaucracy and how to write memos and brief policy makers; by the third year, they rely less on their primary team and have identified other important resources in the IC. Clark emphasized that analysts benefit from knowing members of these ad hoc teams, which deepens their expertise and helps with coordination on memos. He added that analysts face a tension with regard to the amount of time spent (and available to spend) on networking and developing these ad hoc teams and on reading mail and analyzing information.
As a final question, Contractor asked Clark to identify critical skills for an intelligence analyst. Clark reiterated that having strong writing skills is essential. Once the analyst is on the job, he said, learning to write analytic
memos still requires practice, training, mentoring, and good management. In addition, he emphasized the importance of the ability to work in teams.
This proceedings follows the structure of the workshop. Chapter 2 summarizes the presentations and discussion in the first workshop panel, which focused on the building and professionalization of the analytic workforce and included topics from recruitment and selection, to leadership contribution, to skill acquisition. The presentations and discussion summarized in Chapter 3 examined the state of the science regarding current challenges facing the analytic workforce, such as the increased use of technology (and the need for human–systems integration) and three challenges faced when working in teams—team building, collaborative knowledge building, and communication. Finally, Chapter 4 turns to the presentations and discussion on trends in workforce development. Speakers addressed the challenges of fundamental transformations that are affecting the workforce at an accelerated pace, with automation and “thinking machines” replacing human tasks and jobs and changing the skills organizations are seeking in their workforces.