Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft
cSIGNAL Magazine 1998
Intelligence Agency Adjusts As Mission Possible Unfolds
Customer awareness, process improvements result from broad applications of advanced analytical tools.
By Clarence A. Robinson, Jr.
The Central Intelligence Agency is bringing the power of information technology advances to bear on its basic analytical functions. The use of advanced analytical tools dovetails with a new strategic agency direction. This imperative calls for much closer ties with customers, accelerating information gathering and processing, handling larger volumes of data more efficiently and expediting product delivery.
An advanced analytic tools office, within the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), is harnessing a variety of information technologies to meet the growing needs of analysts in the intelligence directorate. The agency recognizes that it can no longer deal with the flow of information as in the past. This new office within the science and technology directorate is focusing its strengths on areas of security, information extraction, data mining, data visualization and machine translation.
An agency initiative encompasses finding ways to provide a laboratory-type of environment, where analysts can interface with industry experts to gain knowledge of entrepreneurial technical approaches and new ways to use cutting-edge information tools. This new environment would address ways to overcome hurdles, not just test existing tools, according to Susan M. Gordon. She directs the 100-person advanced analytical tools office. "We want to get industry's brightest minds and have them understand what the analysts are trying to do and perhaps provide solutions ... 'if we just did it this way,'" she observes.
A series of demonstrations with selected contractors addresses the ways that existing technology can provide information tool solutions to agency problems. Analysts already routinely meet with computer scientists and engineers from this new CIA office to gain insights into applications of existing agency analytical tools to ease the workload or speed up the process, Gordon notes.