The intelligence community is developing a single cloud computing network to allow all its analysts to access and rapidly sift through massive volumes of data. When fully complete, this effort will create a pan-agency cloud, with organizations sharing many of the same computing resources and information. More importantly, the hope is the system will break down existing boundaries between agencies and change their insular cultures.

As in the rest of the federal government, lower costs and higher efficiency are the primary reasons for the intelligence world’s shift to cloud computing, said Charles Allen, formerly Under Secretary of Homeland Security for intelligence and analysis, currently a principal with the Chertoff Group, in an interview with Breaking Defense, an affiliate of Breaking Gov. Keep reading →

Management and program silos within agencies that so often stymie efforts to integrate information technology and security practices are also hindering efforts to institute smarter risk management strategies at agencies, according to senior government security officials.

“Risk is still being managed at most agencies in a stovepipe manner,” said Department of Energy Chief Information Officer Bob Brese (pictured at left) during a Government Technology Research Alliance conference on government security trends on Monday. Keep reading →

The terrorists who attacked the Benghazi consulate, killing US Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and four others, apparently maintained web, cell and radio silence before they acted, giving the US no hint an attack was imminent.

“If people do not emit or discuss their behavior, it’s hard to find out what they are going to do,” Director of National Intelligence Jim Clapper said at the huge annual conference of intelligence professionals called Geoint. The U.S., he made clear, did not have tactical warning of the attacks. He noted that there were anti-American protests in 54 countries when the attacks occurred, clearly implying the intelligence community had its hands full that day. Keep reading →

You can smell the fear and worry here at the annual Geoint conference. The budget cuts that Director of National Intelligence Jim Clapper outlined yesterday may be as deep as $40 billion over the next 10 years, sources here say. The consensus number is closer to $25 billion, but more than three sources cited $40 billion.

How much of that comes from next year’s budget is, at this point, anyone’s guess. For purposes of scale, the intelligence community spent $80.1 billion in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 last year. Clapper told the Geoint annual conference yesterday that the intelligence community faces “double digit cuts” over the next decade.

The magnitude of the intelligence cuts– however deep they really are — has executives grasping for information and reassurance where they can find it. One of the biggest targets in the intelligence world may be two companies — Digital Globe and GeoEye.

If the experiences of DHS and ODNI are any guide, the success or failure of reorganization may depend on dynamics and relationships that transcend the immediate borders of the new department or agency.

A new government enterprise does not exist in a vacuum, but must operate within a super system of sister departments, White House councils and czars, and congressional oversight
committees. While these institutional actors are rarely taken into account by those who design a new agency, they can have a profound impact on those charged with building and running the organization. Keep reading →

While in the throes of merging multiple agencies and thousands of employees nearly a decade ago, DHS and ODNI leaders became so focused on the mission — keeping Americans safe — that key management functions often fell through the proverbial cracks and ultimately weakened capabilities.

Management, it appears, is central to mission. That’s Lesson Three in a report released this week by the Partnership for Public Service and Booz Allen Hamilton detailing four lessons from the creation of and subsequent problems within the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Keep reading →

The experience of DHS and ODNI suggest leaders must imbed the vision and values in the new organization for it to gain traction and succeed, but that doing so might rank among the most challenging tasks.

Intangible elements, or the “soft stuff,” such as communicating a new culture and identity while remaining sensitive to tradition, are often the toughest to tackle. Keep reading →

An in-depth analysis of flaws in DHS and ODNI reorganization efforts shows both would have benefited from strong leadership to articulate the mission and the reasons for change, guide the transformation, and meld together disparate entities and management approaches.

Essentially, chain of command is necessary, but not sufficient. Keep reading →