OODA OriginalUncategorized

Going Purple

As part of an effort to break down barriers between intelligence agencies, [Intelligence Community] employees will be required to serve tours of duty outside their home offices to qualify for promotion into the government’s senior ranks.

A directive mandating “joint duty” assignments was recently issued by John D. Negroponte, the director of national intelligence. It is one of a series of steps taken this year by Negroponte to better integrate operations among the 16 federal agencies that make up the intelligence community. […]

The intelligence community, or IC, has always encouraged employees to move between agencies on temporary or rotational assignments, but the practice has not worked well because it lacked structure and uniformity, Sanders said. In particular, he said, the new program will try to address employee concerns that rotational tours put them at risk of being “out of sight, out of mind” when promotion opportunities arise in their home agency.

It would be nice to think that this was some new thing and that the DNI is blazing some kind of trail, but that wouldn’t be true. The fact of the matter is that such a community-wide program has been in existence for some time. The “new” part of this effort is the actual requirement that it be a part of any effort to advance beyond grade 13, which was basically something that agencies paid lip-service to in reality. Pre-joint-ness becoming an ICO basically meant your old office forgot about you for a while, and when you came back they forgot that you had all this new knowledge and new skills. If you hated your job and hated your boss (and the feeling was mutual) going the ICO route was a nice way to get a change of scenery while either hoping that the boss would retire or your new office would find a billet for you. Almost no one who actually wanted to go the ICO route for all the right reasons actually got to go.

Don’t get me wrong: this is a good idea, but like a lot of HR-centric things in the IC the unintended consequences are going to be huge. The reality – separated from the rhetoric – will be exposed fairly quickly.  

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.