9/11 Commission Report:

Reorganization, Transformation, and Information Sharing

GAO-04-1033T: Published: Aug 3, 2004. Publicly Released: Aug 3, 2004.

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The sorrow, loss, anger, and resolve so evident immediately following the September 11, 2001, attacks have been combined in an effort to help assure that our country will never again be caught unprepared. As the 9/11 Commission notes, we are safer today but we are not safe, and much work remains. Although in today's world we can never be 100 percent secure, and we can never do everything everywhere, we concur with the Commission's conclusion that the American people should expect their government to do its very best. GAO's mission is to help the Congress improve the performance and ensure the accountability of the federal government for the benefit of the American people. GAO has been actively involved in improving government's performance in the critically important homeland security area both before and after the September 11 attacks. In its request, the House Committee on Government Reform have asked GAO to address two issues: the lack of effective information sharing and analysis and the need for executive branch reorganization in response to the 9/11 Commission recommendations. Further, the Committee has asked GAO to address how to remedy problems in information sharing and analysis by transforming the intelligence community from a system of "need to know" to one of a "need to share."

The 9/11 Commission has recommended several transformational changes, such as the establishment of a National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) for joint operational planning and joint intelligence and replacing the current Director of Central Intelligence with a National Intelligence Director (NID) to oversee national intelligence centers across the federal government. The NID would manage the national intelligence program and oversee agencies that contribute to it. On August 2, 2004, the President asked Congress to create a NID position to be the principal intelligence advisor, appointed by the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate and serving at the pleasure of the President. Unlike the 9/11 Commission, the President did not propose that the NID be within the Executive Office of the President. He also announced that he will establish a NCTC whose Director would report to the NID, and that this center would build upon the analytic work of the existing Terrorist Threat Integration Center. He suggested that a separate center may be necessary for issues of weapons of mass destruction. Finally, he endorsed the 9/11 Commission's call for reorganization of the Congressional oversight structure. There are, however, several substantive differences between the President's proposal and the Commission's recommendations. While praising the work of the 9/11 Commission, and endorsing several of its major recommendations in concept, the President differed with the Commission on certain issues. These differences reflect that reasoned and reasonable individuals may differ, and that several methods may exist to effectuate the transformational changes recommended. However, certain common principles and factors outlined in this statement today should help guide the debate ahead. Although the creation of a NID and a NCTC would be major changes for the intelligence community, other structural and management changes have occurred and are continuing to occur in government that provide lessons for the intelligence community transformation. While the intelligence community has historically been addressed separately from the remainder of the federal government, and while it undoubtedly performs some unique missions that present unique issues, its major transformational challenges in large measure are the same as those that face most government agencies. As a result, GAO's findings, recommendations, and experience in reshaping the federal government to meet Twenty-First Century challenges will be directly relevant to the intelligence community and the recommendations proposed by the 9/11 Commission. The goal of improving information sharing and analysis with a focus upon the needs of the consumers of such improved information for specific types of threats can provide one of the powerful guiding principles necessary for successful transformation. This testimony covers four major points. First, it describes the rationale for improving effective information sharing and analysis, and suggest some ways to achieve positive results. Second, it provides some overview perspectives on reorganizational approaches to improve performance and note necessary cautions. Third, it illustrates that strategic human capital management must be the centerpiece of any serious change management initiative or any effort to transform the cultures of government agencies, including that of the intelligence community. Finally, it emphasizes the importance of results-oriented strategic planning and implementation for the intelligence arena, focusing management attention on outcomes, not outputs, and the need for effective accountability and oversight to maintain focus upon improving performance. It concludes by applying these concepts and principles to the challenges of reform in the intelligence community.

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