US Intelligence Community insiders express frustration with restructuring process

ODNI NCTCA private management consulting firm that was hired to streamline the United States Intelligence Community’s communication and decision-making process has made these practices worse, according to insiders. The news website Politico, which published the story on Tuesday, identified the management consulting firm in question as McKinsey and Co. Established in 1926, the company is one of the world’s industry leaders, with over 100 offices around the globe. It has a long history of working with the US government and is reported to have secured nearly $1 billion in US government sector contracts since 2010 alone. Among those contracts is a $10 million project to improve the communication and decision-making processes of the US Intelligence Community, which began in 2015.

But the effort has not been successful, according to Politico, which cited “nearly a dozen current and former officials” in several different agencies of the US Intelligence Community. These officials “either witnessed the restructuring firsthand or are familiar with the project”, said Politico. They described the results of the restructuring as “a coordination nightmare”, which complicated long-established linear chains of command and ended up “slowing down projects and turnaround time”. They accuse McKinsey of applying formulaic communication models to agency directorates and units with very unique cultures and methods of operation, effectively hindering decision-making processes at agencies such as the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. In one example, CIA analysts and operations officers, who have traditionally worked without regular face-to-face interaction, were placed side-by-side in so-called mission centers. This move “made missions more muddled” and generated “frustration” on both sides, said Politico. The resulting mayhem has left many intelligence employees “dismayed […], demoralized and less effective”, said the officials. They also warned that bureaucratic changes that delay response times may negatively affect intelligence collection and counterintelligence, and might even cost lives.

Spokespersons and some former officials from several intelligence agencies did not appear to share the criticisms of McKinsey’s work, said Politico. They argued that it was “too early to judge the results” of the restructuring and downplayed the role that the firm played in the process. In most cases, the latter was led by senior officials from within the intelligence agencies, they said. They added that the restructuring is “a work in progress” and that senior administration have in fact observed “a number of positive early returns” resulting from the restructuring process. Politico said it contacted McKinsey, but was told that the company has a policy of not discussing publicly its contractual obligations or performance.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 05 July 2019 | Permalink

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