Hurry Up, Please, It's Time (Spy Agency Sharing Edition)


In the years since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Bush and Obama administrations have said that clearing away technical and bureaucratic obstacles to effective intelligence analysis among government agencies was a top priority. But execution has fallen short of ambition.

One example is the Information Integration Program, an effort to create a Google-like search capability across all spy agencies that was relaunched in 2008 after an earlier effort collapsed. Its initial momentum lost steam amid the bureaucratic turnover with the change in administration, according to current and former officials tracking the program.

At its current pace, the program won't be fully in place for two years, a congressional official said.

More here, in the Wall Street Journal.

NEXT: Deficit Disorder

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  1. I think the point made here by The Jacket is a valid one: The federal government is a slow lumbering beast barely capable of getting out of its own way.

  2. Have we learned nothing? I betcha if we’d just offered a cool billion for bin Laden, with a few hundred million dollar rewards for some other key lieutenants, we’d be done with al Qaeda. Shoot, we could do that with regimes we don’t like, too: $10 billion to the leaders of the new government that overthrows the one we don’t like.

    1. And the magic multiplier would mean that those dudes would totally stimulate Mid-East economies and eliminate poverty and unemployment, and therefore terror. OMG! Best idea ever!

    2. Think twice about getting you-know-who to do the offering, if you catch my drift.

      We gotta have street cred to pull this off.

    3. As long as we said the money was payable only upon delivery of their severed heads (so we could be sure, ya know), I’m all for it.

  3. Right, because it’s magical government money I’m talking about.

  4. The most fundamental problem is that this kind of information is intentionally segregated and closed-off, as in Sensitive Compartmented Information. The national security complex is designed to reduce access to information, not to share it (securely).

  5. Maybe we should replace all this security with a blog: “Whoa, look at what the Iranians are doing today! That’s some fucked up shit!”

  6. I wouldn’t have thought to use a quote from Eliot as a headline for this. But it somehow seems to work.

  7. juris hit the nail on the head.While any information management initiative is heavily dependent on leadership, this challenge is moreso than most.

    While there is certainly a need for novel IT to make collaboration work – the problems of security are thornier and by no means addressable purely by technology.

    Worse yet, the market isn’t all that large in contrast to commercial IT markets. If the stuff works really well, it also won’t be a cakewalk when the creator tries to export it.

    For example, imagine a group of people from different organizations who must work temporarily together in response to some emergency:
    – none has the authority to look as the others’ organizational repositories
    – they likely make (yet another) copy of each dataset they bring to the party, falling out of sync with their home offices
    – when the emergency is over, and it’s time to take home “lessons learned”, there’s no
    straightforward way to reintegrate the working group’s datasets without arduous review, as each organization only has authority or need-to-know for portions of the whole

    The one area where there may be a parallel market might be healthcare, but only if providers become more conscientious of privacy and security then they demonstrably have been to date.

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