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Pay for Performance

A good post at Secrecy News about changes in how intelligence officers are compensated.

Perhaps it is because I can work like a fiend that I find the prospect of breaking free of the General Schedule so attractive. Knowing that the geezer with 30 years tenure who spent his days reading the paper would make a lot less than I would (as opposed to the status quo) is a serious boost to morale, not just the pocketbook.

The question becomes: How do you assess value? Volume alone isn’t the answer because as soon as you affix a value to a given product the system will overflow with crap. Quality? When do you judge that and by what criteria? At the time of production because the writing is elegant or five years down the road when your projections are all proven to have been correct? Do you take into consideration each mission? Do CT analysts ride a huge compensation wave while the roads and bridges shop starves?

Once again we can turn to the ‘Net for an answer.

Assume the developments discussed in the previous post come to fruition. The next logical step is to then apply a Digg or eBay-style ranking and/or an Amazon-style rating system. Over 100 analysts and policymakers though Alice’s assessment on the latest reporting from Darfur was top-notch? That’s a boost to her bottom line. Bob’s work on that joint analysis project was ranked ‘mediocre’ by his peers on the staff? No raise for Bob. Charlie hasn’t posted for a month and he hasn’t even begun to fulfill his Wiki entries? Watch for a drop in take-home pay.

Implementation would not be technically difficult and over time the automation factor would allow you to cut out more overhead. Like any such mechanism you’ll have to have a means in place to make sure people aren’t gaming the system by colluding with their pals. It most certainly will be a shock to those used to the old system but as I said previously; if you make it mandatory, it’ll work.

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji spent nearly 20 years in the US intelligence community. Trained in both SIGINT and HUMINT disciplines he has worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the National Reconnaissance Office. At various points in his career he served as an expert in information warfare, computer network operations, computer forensics, and indications and warning. A veteran of the US Army, Michael has served in both strategic and tactical assignments in the Pacific Theater, the Balkans, and the Middle East.