OODA OriginalUncategorized

Everybody Home, Lights Are Off

The intrepid Siobhan Gorman strikes again:

The National Security Agency is running out of juice.

The demand for electricity to operate its expanding intelligence systems has left the high-tech eavesdropping agency on the verge of exceeding its power supply, the lifeblood of its sprawling 350-acre Fort Meade headquarters, according to current and former intelligence officials.

Agency officials anticipated the problem nearly a decade ago as they looked ahead at the technology needs of the agency, sources said, but it was never made a priority, and now the agency’s ability to keep its operations going is threatened. The NSA is already unable to install some costly and sophisticated new equipment, including two new supercomputers, for fear of blowing out the electrical infrastructure, they said. […]

The NSA’s problem was identified in the late 1990s and could have been fixed by now — and for much less money — had keeping the lights on been a priority, current and former officials said.

“It fits into a long, long pattern of crisis-of-the-day management as opposed to investing in the future,” said one former government official familiar with the NSA’s electricity shortfall.

Planning for the future is not only not practiced with any seriousness or regularity, it almost isn’t welcome. When no one in a position of responsibility sticks around for more than two or three years who gives a s*** if things fall apart after you’re gone?

Enough bashing, what’s the solution?

Spread out the pain. There are enough agency locations around the country (cities on the BRAC list take note) that can take the heat off of MD; not everything needs to be co-located. Bandwidth is cheap, domestically network and app latency is nominal, and memory is practically free. People in the spooky business move to high-COLA DC because that is where the work is. In the info age physical location is less and less important. Who wouldn’t want to move closer to family and do the same job? Happier workforce, more productivity, smaller physical footprint, greater resilience to disaster, etc., etc.

Oh, and a lot less chance that you’ll have to use a kerosene lantern to find your office.

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.