Transforming the Intelligence Community: Improving the Collection and Management of Information
Transformation of Organization Series
Author: Elaine Kamarck, Lecturer in Public Policy
Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security
In the years since the end of the Cold War, the intelligence community (IC) has engaged in much soul searching but with little action. That is beginning to change in the wake of intelligence failures surrounding September 11, 2001, and in Iraq. But the solutions enacted so far, especially the creation of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, do not get to some of the real problems in the community. The community was built to follow the Soviet monolith, and it needs fundamental reforms in the ways ordinary intelligence officers work to meet the new threats of the 21st century.
The field of knowledge management is a convenient starting point for attempting to understand what has to happen for the IC to become capable of dealing with 21st century threats. Knowledge management suggests that the IC of the future should seek to combine the tacit knowledge of the organization with its explicit knowledge. It should allow freer access to information and create ways of learning from both internal and external networks. Redundancy should be regarded as an important aspect of organizational design along with the strategic rotation of employees and matrix management. Finally, the IC should create mechanisms to learn from its mistakes and mechanisms that allow it to operate in real time in order to become capable of continuous innovation and adaptation.
The report concludes with eight recommendations aimed at building a different, more comprehensive intelligence community capable of providing its customers with knowledge about the threats that this country and the world will face in the years ahead.
- kamarckfin.pdf (941K PDF)
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Document Length: 40 pp.