The U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) consists of 18 organizations, such as the intelligence components of the five military services within the Department of Defense (DOD) as well as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). These organizations independently and collaboratively gather, analyze, and produce the intelligence necessary to conduct foreign relations and national security activities. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which heads the IC, works to ensure that things like standards, processes, and tools across the community are consistent and efficient.
The U.S. Intelligence Community
However, the IC could improve how it manages its workforce, supports military operations, and manages its intelligence infrastructure.
- The offices of inspectors general (OIGs) oversee whistleblower complaint investigations and protection from reprisal. Quality assurance standards at 6 IC OIGs included codes of conduct and ethical and professional standards. However, these OIGs could better ensure complaints are properly handled.
- The IC has made some progress in ensuring that it has a capable and diverse workforce—which is critical to its ability to deliver distinctive, timely insights with clarity, objectivity, and independence. The IC follows many leading practices for managing workforce diversity, but could do more to enhance planning, measure progress, and assess barriers. For example, while the IC has reported an increase among some demographic groups in the last 5 years, the proportions of women and racial or ethnic minorities stayed below federal workforce benchmarks between FYs 2011 and 2019. The proportions of persons with disabilities in the IC also didn't meet federal goals.
Intelligence Community Workforce Compared to the Federal Workforce and Civilian Labor Force
- The IC’s intelligence is a critical element in planning U.S. military operations. DOD uses certifications to determine that its employees have the necessary education, training, and experience to carry out their duties. However, DOD does not have such certifications for some personnel that provide intelligence support to its weapons acquisition programs. Additionally, DOD’s Missile Defense Agency (MDA) uses information from the IC to develop systems to address the threat of ballistic missiles. The MDA has recently increased its interaction with the IC, but further collaboration could help the MDA keep pace with evolving threats.
MDA Flight Test Against a Long-Range Threat (March 25, 2019)
- Commercial satellite companies can play a key role in providing imagery and data critical to national security issues. For example, the war in Ukraine has drawn attention to how governments are using commercial satellites to track troop movement and the impact of attacks. The IC and DOD, however, have a slow and cumbersome approach to incorporating emerging commercial capabilities. Until they address this, the U.S. risks losing a technological advantage over emerging competitors, like China.