Intelligence execs urged to gain experience with multiple agencies

Such exposure likely will become a requirement for executive jobs, human capital chief says.

Experience with multiple intelligence agencies is likely to become a prerequisite for advancement to executive positions within the intelligence community, the human capital chief for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said Wednesday.

Within the next several years, movement across some of the 15 agencies in the intelligence community probably will become a requirement for employees looking to become senior executives, said Ronald Sanders, chief human capital officer at the intelligence office. He spoke at a National Press Club breakfast hosted by Government Executive.

Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte released a National Intelligence Strategy last week in which he addressed upcoming human capital reforms. The paper called for building "an intelligence community-wide culture that values the abilities of each of its members and provides them developmental opportunities across the intelligence community in accord with their aptitudes."

The strategy also called for Sanders to develop an Intelligence Community Strategic Human Capital Plan. Sanders said his first order of business is the cross-agency employment plan.

"Our very first human capital directive," Sanders said, is the notion that "if you want to be a senior leader in the intelligence community, you have got to pull joint-duty."

The 15 agencies in the intelligence community are the: Air Force, Army, Navy, Central Intelligence Agency, Coast Guard, Defense Intelligence Agency, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, National Reconnaissance Office, National Security Agency, Marine Corps and the departments of Energy, Homeland Security, State, Treasury, and Justice.

Sanders said that in the future, employees will "have to continue moving diagonally or laterally across the intelligence community," commenting that employees with this diversity of experience "are better leaders for it."

Within the 15 intelligence agencies, there are more than 1,000 positions that are considered senior level. These are in services such as the Senior Executive Service, Senior Intelligence Service, the Defense Intelligence Senior Executive Service and the Senior Foreign Service.

The cross-agency initiative will focus more on mid-level or lower intelligence employees, Sanders said, because it is "too late when you're a senior leader already." But within five years or so, he said he hopes that vacant SES positions will be filled by people with cross-agency experience. Sanders said he expects certain jobs to explicitly require such experience.

"We have to give people who are in the pipeline enough time to recast their career plans," Sanders said. The intelligence director's office will "try to balance the need for speed with the concern that we don't demoralize" upper-level employees, he said.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence was created in response to the 2004 Intelligence Reform Act, which sought to unify and coordinate the components of the intelligence community to better guard against terrorist attacks.

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