From Mandate to Blueprint
Lessons from Intelligence Reform
Thomas Fingar

BUY THIS BOOK


Contents and Abstracts
Introduction: From Mandate to Blueprint
chapter abstract

New appointees take up new positions with some combination of mandates and aspirations involving both change and continuity but seldom arrive with detailed blueprints specifying what to do and how to do it. This chapter previews dimensions of what is necessary to implement mandates and achieve specific goals.

Intelligence Reform: Unique Opportunity or Fool's Errand?
chapter abstract

Dismay caused by real or imputed "intelligence failures" had sparked dozens of calls for reform, but most had little effect on the organization or performance of intelligence agencies. That changed in 2004 when fears sparked by the events of 9/11, growing dissatisfaction with the Iraq War, and the political skill of 9/11 Commission members made more serious efforts to reform intelligence all but inevitable. This chapter looks at the way events unfolded and how they were viewed by the author from the perspective of his position as head of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research.

Sliding Toward an Offer I Couldn't Refuse
chapter abstract

This chapter describes the evolution of the author's thinking about intelligence reform and the new Office of the Director of National Intelligence as he was both invited and forced to think more systematically about what would be required to build a new organization with an expansive mission, and what the new organization and reform mandate might mean for his Bureau of the State Department. It also describes the evolution of his thinking about whether he should seek or accept an opportunity to lead the first major reform of the national security enterprise in sixty years.

Blank White Board and Ticking Clock
chapter abstract

This chapter examines the challenges of building an entirely new organization within another entirely new organizational structure with no history, no organization chart, no staff, and an enormous portfolio of new and continuing responsibilities. Other challenges included an ambiguous mandate, hostility to the establishment of the new organization and mandated reforms, serious morale problems resulting from public criticism of intelligence professionals, and chicken-and-egg problems such as recruiting people for positions that had not yet been defined to assume responsibilities that were still to be clarified. Shaping considerations included the need to make fundamental changes without degrading performance in support of ongoing missions and intense pressure to demonstrate results quickly.

Building a Team and Building Support
chapter abstract

This chapter describes considerations and choices shaping the senior team assembled to develop and implement a strategy and plan to achieve mandated and desired changes to the way analysis support is produced and provided by the Intelligence Community. Considerations included defining the mix of skills and experience required, responding to pressures to bring in "new people and new ideas" while ensuring adequate understanding of intelligence missions and procedures, eliciting ideas and building support among the analytic workforce, and building an organizational structure to achieve priority objectives. It also examines challenges of assuming responsibility for existing high-profile missions, including the President's Daily Brief and the National Intelligence Council.

Translating Ideas into Actions
chapter abstract

This chapter examines the interplay of conflicting and interconnected pressures and priorities and the challenges of integrating analytically distinct tasks into a prioritized agenda and strategy to achieve multiple goals. It describes the considerations that shaped decisions about relative importance, the sequencing of steps to accomplish specific tasks, and the organizational, procedural, and personnel choices made to achieve prioritized objectives. Specific goals examined include rebuilding confidence in the people and products of intelligence analysis, improving the quality and utility of analytic work, and building teams to formulate and execute the strategy.

Organizing Themes and Goals
chapter abstract

This chapter examines issues related to the importance of developing a coherent and convincing narrative to explain what we wanted to accomplish and how we proposed to achieve both overarching objectives and specific tasks and missions. Illustrative examples include steps taken to explain our strategy and secure buy-in from the analytic workforce, and the way in which we proposed to improve the performance of individual analysts, Intelligence Community agencies, and the Intelligence Community as a whole.

Think Big, Start Small, Fail Cheap, Fix Fast
chapter abstract

This chapter examines the conflicting demands to develop effective measures and to demonstrate results quickly. It describes the rationale for eschewing efforts to develop a perfect plan before building a management team, explaining the plan to the workforce, beginning to implement component steps, and making course corrections on the basis of feedback and experience. It describes the importance of having sufficient clarity to persuade subordinates and oversight bodies that one does indeed have a strategy while maintaining sufficient objectivity and agility to identify and alter steps that are not working as well as anticipated.

Taking Stock
chapter abstract

This chapter describes the need for and challenges of collecting information required to develop and implement other parts of the overall strategy, and explains why data collection was not a simple or straightforward task. Specific areas covered include collecting information on the topics covered by each analytic agency, the expertise of individual analysts, and the products produced by each analytic component of the Intelligence Community. This baseline information was essential for future decisions about possible duplication of effort, determining which agencies and individuals were best able to address specific questions, and finding collaborators across agency boundaries.

Training and Tradecraft
chapter abstract

Reforms mandated by the 2004 intelligence reform legislation required development and application of analytic tradecraft standards. This chapter explores the challenges of developing the standards, establishing a training program to teach analysts what they were and how to use them, and procedures to evaluate the use of the standards in analytic products produced in all intelligence agencies. It also examines how the baseline data obtained when mapping research topics, expertise, and analytic products were used to develop evaluative procedures helpful to managers and necessary to comply with Congressionally mandated reporting requirements.

Transforming the PDB into a Community Product
chapter abstract

This chapter examines challenges inherent in the requirement to transform the President's Daily Brief from a solely CIA product into one incorporating the views of analysts from all Intelligence Community component agencies. Subtasks included establishing the technical capability to share sensitive drafts and related materials among all agencies, establishing procedures to identify analytic disagreements and why they existed, and incorporating tradecraft standards into the PDB process. The challenges examined in this chapter illustrate broader constraints and shaping factors such as the need to maintain quality analytic support to the President, other senior officials, and all levels of the national security establishment while introducing personnel and procedural reforms.

Management of the Analysis Mission
chapter abstract

This chapter examines challenges related to the mandate that analysis and analysts play a greater role in the collection and evaluation of intelligence, and the decision to improve the quality and utility of individual analysis and Intelligence Community performance by enhancing collaboration among analysts and assigning the best experts to work on the most vexing and most urgent problems. It describes establishing new procedures to prioritize and adjust collection priorities and for integrating foreign intelligence and domestic (law enforcement) information.

Transforming Analysis
chapter abstract

The reform legislation, the White House, and various commission reports had called for a number of specified reforms, but they were insufficient to achieve the transformation of analysis in the Intelligence Community that we judged necessary to meet current and future requirements. This chapter examines the rationale for and specific steps taken to transform collaboration among analysts and across agency boundaries, to utilize experts and expertise found outside the Intelligence Community, and to make it much easier to discover and share information. It describes both procedural and technical impediments and the steps taken to ameliorate or overcome them.

Roads Not Taken
chapter abstract

An important part of any undertaking is to determine which goals to defer, which fights to avoid, and which "good ideas" would be too costly to pursue. This chapter examines fights the author decided not to wage because doing so would have diverted too much time, attention, and political capital needed to achieve higher-priority objectives. Examples examined include the decision not to engage on terrorism analysis, not to take responsibility for management of open source (unclassified) intelligence, and to eschew engagement on the issues of establishing "mission managers" for all regional and functional arenas.

Reflections and Lessons
chapter abstract

This chapter provides a personal assessment of the choices made, approach adopted, and steps taken during the years covered by the case study (2005–2008). It does not assess the efficacy of specific reforms or comment on changes made by subsequent Directors of National Intelligence but, with benefit of hindsight, it does not identify anything that could or should have been done differently. It notes, however, that different people with different experience and personal priorities might well have made different choices, and that there is no single "best way" to manage the complex challenges of organizational change in a high-profile and highly politicized environment.

Lessons for New Appointees
chapter abstract

This chapter argues that what seemed like an unusual if not completely unique set of challenges when the author was selected to implement intelligence reforms in 2005 will be far more common in coming years as new appointees across the federal government attempt to rebuilt capacity and restore confidence in institutions and people disrupted and disparaged during the Trump administration. Taking that as its starting point, the chapter provides general lessons and guidelines derived from and illustrated by the case study that are relevant and, hopefully, helpful to the hundreds of new appointees who must reform, restore, rebuild, and reorient the work of essential components of the federal government.

chapter abstract