National Intelligence CIO says intelligence community needs huge culture shift for information sharing

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. 26 January 2007. Cross domain information sharing among U.S. intelligence agencies and the Department of Defense (DOD) is necessary for efficient intelligence gathering, but is only possible through a huge culture shift in America's intelligence community, says Dale Meyerrose, U.S. Associate Director of National Intelligence and Chief Information Officer.

By John McHale

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. 26 January 2007. Cross domain information sharing among U.S. intelligence agencies and the Department of Defense (DOD) is necessary for efficient intelligence gathering, but is only possible through a huge culture shift in America's intelligence community, says Dale Meyerrose, U.S. Associate Director of National Intelligence and Chief Information Officer.

Myerrose, a retired U.S. Air Force major general, made his comments Jan. 25 to a gathering of senior military officials and industry leaders at the SPACECOMM 207 conference on Colorado Springs, Colo.

Meyerrose, who manages activities relating to the information technology infrastructure and enterprise requirements of the intelligence community, made the comments as part of his keynote address at SpaceComm 2007 at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, Colo., where the theme was "Information Dominance through Knowledge Management."

One network is needed to bring the thousands of analysts together instead of the many different stovepipe systems in use today, Meyerrose said. He calls this network ASpace or Analysts Space.

About 50 percent of these analysts have five or less year's experience which means that most of them are under 30 and will embrace these new technologies, Meyerrose continued.

Meyerrose hinted that the first steps of this will be seen in his budget for 2008, but he declined to speak on specifics until it is released.

In most organizations the concept of information sharing means passing data from one to the other, he said. "This is not acceptable today." A concept of active coordination and decision making must be instituted, Meyerrose explained.

For example the intelligence community and the DOD must not just trade information but be a part of each other's governing and planning sessions, have joint offices and joint publications, etc., Meyerrose said.

Another issue that needs to be addressed is security and accreditation, Meyerrose said. In the past this was always weighed by the pound of paper, he added. "We have to come to grips with surrendering autonomy without surrendering authority."

The intelligence community needs to be of the mindset that they must leverage what is beyond their control in order to become efficient in today's environment, Meyerrose said. The intelligence communities need to stop being a culture of risk avoidance and become one of risk management if they are going to take advantage of technology, he continued.

Meyerrose and his group will come out jointly with the DOD and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) with a plan to refine seven major pieces of security and accreditation. He declined to comment on specifics, but did say that levels of security will be synergistic across multiple agencies. The purpose of intelligence community is "not to feed information for information's sake" but to feed decision makers at all levels.

Meyerrose said the hardest classified level to manage will be the unclassified one. Unlike Top Secret and Secret levels where there are well defined rules that everyone understands, the unclassified levels do not have any.

He ended his address by thanking those in uniform who put themselves in harm's way for their country, but said that that is not enough. Meyerrose said there are also civilians who are "just as dedicated, make just as many sacrifices, and get killed just as often" and deserve to be recognized too.

That still is not enough, he said, because there are also many contractor and industry personnel who are patriotic and put themselves in danger to support the military. Meyerrose noted that intelligence assessments report that about 800 contractor and defense industry individuals have been killed in southwest Asia since 2003, he said. Meyerrose said their sacrifices are just as worthy as those who wear a uniform and should be remembered.

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