The Buzz

Smarter Intelligence

As Gen. Michael Hayden takes over at the much-maligned and diminished CIA, he should note that it's not the organization that counts, it's the analysts. Most intelligence reforms have involved creating and restructuring organizations. But thinkers within the intelligence community suggest real change must occur inside the minds and methods of analysts.

"Neither curiosity nor expertise on the part of individual analysts can be restored by directives from the top; they must come from an appropriate recruiting profiles, effective training, continual mentoring at all levels, time to learn and practice the craft of analysis-both individually and collaboratively-and constraining the 'tyranny of taskings' that prevents analysts from exercising curiosity and pondering more than the obvious answer," Jeffrey R. Cooper writes in Curing Analytic Pathologies: Pathways to Improved Intelligence Analysis, published in December 2005 by the CIA's Center for the Study of Intelligence. Cooper, who served on the staff of the Silberman-Robb commission on weapons of mass destruction, is vice president for technology at Science Applications International Corp. in San Diego.

He blames the loss of experienced analysts, users' demands for current intelligence, technical shortcomings and the CIA's lack of self-reflection, among other things, for bad calls on Iraq's WMD; the Sept. 11 attacks; the North Korean, Indian and Pakistani nuclear programs; and strategic terrorism. He recommends adopting post-mortems to dissect failures and near-misses, briefings by longtime analysts on especially difficult cases, after-action reports and lessons learned sessions.

D. Calvin Andrus of the CIA's application services office proposes analysts develop blogs and Wikis to better mix and sift shared knowledge. His goal, not unlike Cooper's, is "an intelligence community that continuously and dynamically re-invents itself in response to the national security environment." Wikis, which are Web sites that allow anyone to add content and anyone else to edit and update it, and blogs, or Web logs, would allow analysts to create self-organizing online communities.

Using the two would allow analysts to share information, update it and, and more important, offer points of view, providing "self-corrective knowledge," Andrus says. Sure, he concedes, for every 99 ideas ex-pressed, only one will be brilliant, but those few lead the community to adapt. The Wiki and the Blog: Toward a Complex Adaptive Intelligence Community was published in July 2005. A shortened version appeared in Vol. 49, No. 3, of Studies in Intelligence, the journal of the CIA's center, in 2005.

Yes, Virginia, There Are More Contractors

Despite years of grumbling about the apparent takeover of government by contractors, their numbers didn't really spike until 1999-2000, as agencies spooked by the Y2K computer conversion problem turned outside for help. A second bump came in late 2001 with the Sept. 11 attacks, and the upward trend continued, spurred by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and subsequent reconstruction.

"Structure and Dynamics of the U.S. Federal Professional Services Industrial Base 1995-2004," a May report by the Defense Industrial Initiatives Group of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, also shows that the total value of services contracts grew $65 billion between 1995 and 2004, from $102 billion to nearly $167 billion. What's more, the number of professional services contractors, which remained flat at about 45,000 between 1995 and 2001, blossomed by 86 percent to 83,000 between 2001 and 2004.

The largest segment in the market was administrative and management services, with $42 billion in contracts in 2004. The fastest-growing segment was information and communications, which had a 14 percent compound annual growth rate during that time. Administrative and management services grew 9 percent a year.

In 1995, $360 million in contract awards was enough to win a firm 20th place among services contractors. In 2004, it took $1 billion in contracts to buy the No. 20 slot. The major new faces in the Top 20 are huge engineering firms. Just one, Bechtel, appeared in the top tier in 1995. But by 2004, Bechtel was joined by Halliburton, Fluor and BWXT, all of them large players in Iraq reconstruction.

Who Knew?

22 million
Lives claimed worldwide by human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome since June 5, 1981
People killed by HIV and AIDS in the United States since 1981
1 million
People living with HIV/AIDS in the United States in 2006
252,000 to 312,000
People living in the United States who are unaware of their HIV infection
New HIV infections expected this year

SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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