More reports on: World economy

CIA plans major overhaul, creation of computer hacking wing

07 March 2015

John BrennanJohn Brennan, director of US Central Intelligence agency (CIA), on Friday announced a sweeping reorganisation of the agency, in an effort to make it a more agile organisation and close gaps in its espionage activities, while also making leadership more accountable.

The restructuring follows widespread criticism about the spy agency's limited insights into a series of big worldwide developments.

Under the restructuring, CIA will have a new directorate devoted to boosting its computer system hacking abilities.

CIA, Brennan said, ''will invest more on enhancing talent and leadership development so that it is easier for its personnel to acquire new skills, strengthen leadership abilities and deepen their distinctive tradecrafts while also broadening their understanding of the intelligence profession, and the national security mission.''

The restructuring plan, which is in line with the recommendations of a nine-member panel appointed by the agency, includes:

  • Establishing a new Talent Development Center of Excellence to bring under one roof the agency's efforts to improve the recruitment, performance management, training, and leadership development of its diverse workforce;
  • Placing all training under CIA University and creating more opportunities for learning across disciplines to help it grow well-rounded intelligence officers. CIA University will be headed by a chancellor with the mandate to educate and train officers able to function in integrated mission environments and to develop into the next generation of agency leaders;
  • Creating more systematic methods to better develop leaders and to integrate activities across the agency, starting with a plan to make multi-disciplinary exposure and experience the ''new normal'' at CIA
  • Reset expectations for leaders at all levels, stressing the importance of developing and empowering personnel, ensuring accountability, being committed to continuous improvement in the area of expertise;

CIA will increasingly leverage the digital revolution and innovate across its missions. ''Digital technology holds great promise for mission excellence, while posing serious threats to the security of our operations and information, as well as to US interests more broadly. We must place our activities and operations in the digital domain at the very center of all our mission endeavors,'' Brennan said.

To that end, the agency plans to establish a senior leadership position to oversee the acceleration of digital and cyber integration across all mission areas

''We will create a new directorate that will be responsible for accelerating the integration of our digital and cyber capabilities across all of our mission areas. It will be called the Directorate of Digital Innovation. The new directorate will be responsible for overseeing the career development of our digital experts as well as the standards of our digital tradecraft.''

Besides, CIA will modernise the way it does business in a world that is changing at a very fast pace so that agency leaders are ''able to make decisions with agility, at the appropriate level, with the right information, and in the interests of the broader enterprise.''

Accordingly, the agency will:

  • Enhance and empower the executive director's role and responsibilities to manage day-to-day organisational functions, including overseeing a revamped corporate governance model; and
  • Create a restructured executive secretary office to streamline core executive support functions, thereby increasing effectiveness and efficiency;

Along with capacity building, CIA also plans to improve ability to govern and make decisions by streamlining the processes at the enterprise level with a corresponding effort to delegate decision making and accountability for achieving mission to the lowest appropriate level.

The new strategy would blend practitioners of the separate disciplines into ten centres devoted to a variety of subjects or regions of the world. Every center would be run by an assistant director who would be accountable for the complete intelligence mission within that jurisdiction, such as covert operations, spying, analysis, liaison with foreign partners and logistics.

The system of CIA stations, headed by a CIA station chief, will stay in location, Brennan said.

The changes do not need congressional approval and will be undertaken within the CIA's present budget, CIA officials said.

 search domain-b