Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Abolish the DNI

There are now news reports (Source: The Blaze citing CBS) that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) altered CIA information on the 9/11/12 Benghazi attack to remove references to terrorism.

As a member of the INTEL Community (IC) when the DNI was proposed, myself and my colleagues understood that it was a path to failure, not success.  Why?

Whenever a bureaucracy is put over a set of bureaucracies there are new fiefdoms for individuals to control (that is, areas of responsibility that get divvied up and individuals then begin turf wars for resources).  This is true of ANY bureaucracy, not just the DNI.

Why was the DNI formed?

In response to a Blue Ribbon Commission investigating the 9/11/01 attacks to find out how so much INTEL could not be coordinated between Agencies within the IC. 

The solution was NOT to remove barriers between common work areas across Agencies. 

The solution was NOT to spin up a cross-agency task sharking system so that INTEL could be shared at the Analyst level and work assignments done utilizing specialists across Agencies.

The solution was not to pare down an obviously inefficient set of bureaucracies to both make them more efficient and to punish such Agencies that had continually asked for more personnel to 'get the job done'.

These were NOT the solutions put into place.

Instead the DNI, a bureaucracy above other bureaucracies, each of those sub-pieces that would now need additional manpower to interface with the new bureaucracy, was created.  This is understood as a path to failure.

There is or should be an Iron Law of Bureaucratic Size for Oversight.  It would simply read:

Any bureaucracy that is increased with the goal to enhance oversight and efficiency instead reduces oversight, efficiency and accountability by requiring more bureaucracy between individuals and more individuals to point the finger at when something goes wrong.

That is what has happened with the DNI.

It failed, as an Office created to discern indications of terrorism, to correctly ID a terror attack after it happened with resources telling it that this was, unmistakably, a terror attack.

On 9/11.

The irony would be mirthful if there were not 4 Americans dead in the streets of Benghazi.

By the reason it was created, by the standards to which it was set to adhere to, the DNI has failed completely and utterly in its mission.

If you want a better working IC get rid of the DNI, strip out bureaucratic staffing at the GS-13 to GS-15 levels, and have the IC get together as working units to determine how best to address information gathering, processing, analysis and draw conclusions by removing fiefdoms and ownership over resources now bestowed upon Agencies.  What is needed to get a job done is best determined at the working level of the Analyst.  Agencies should have as their mandate the requirement to identify key skills and then SUPPORT THEM and recruit individuals to meet REQUIRED SKILLSETS to properly work through INTEL.

Make project heads accountable for their work product and grade analysts directly on the quality of it as seen by their USERS, not by their BOSSES.

Reward good work, efficiency and actually getting the job done correctly and to the end-user's satisfaction.

But above all else, if nothing else is done, get rid of the DNI as we are LESS able to ID terrorism NOW than on 9/10/01.

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