The primacy of U.S. power is facing an unprecedented challenge: A strategic competition with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is shaping the future of U.S. policy and arguably the international order. Now, the U.S. must set the terms of the contest, stay ahead of global crises, and outpace foreign intelligence and military services as they relentlessly pursue high-tech competitive advantages. To prevail in this decisive decade, the intelligence community (IC) must accelerate its fielding of innovative, mission-driven capabilities.
Success will entail deliberate, collaborative partnership between the IC and industry. The goal is achieving the scale, agility, and resilience to outpace adversaries—and the means to this end will be the business processes and models around the workforce, technology, and acquisition:
- A scalable workforce is essential. Given the demand for cleared technical talent, high salaries in industry, the security clearance process, workforce trends, attrition, and millennial workers’ tendency to stay in a role just a bit longer than it takes to obtain a high-level clearance, the IC is challenged to hire and retain talent. The IC needs expanded, quicker access to specialized, diverse talent—a broader range of companies and workers—along with a faster process for final clearance adjudication.
- Agile technology adoption involves understanding, obtaining, and quickly delivering capabilities. This is essential for mission resiliency. The IC can benefit by casting a wide net to understand the landscape of new and emerging capabilities and support the identification, integration, and adoption of novel tech to outpace adversaries.
- Innovative acquisition can enable speed to mission. The talent and technology processes are highly dependent on the acquisition model. Two opportunities for improvement include quickly enabling agile contracts that attract the wider tech industrial base and enabling contractors to continuously innovate, while on contract, to meet the evolving mission needs over time.
So, what tools can the IC use to evolve these business processes and models? In each case, the IC can apply a mix of three levers to increase speed to mission with creative thinking, leading practices, and strategic investments. Here are the three levers:
- Co-opt: Reuse work produced by others for new and innovative purposes.
- Collaborate: Synchronize ideas and capabilities to accomplish a shared outcome.
- Co-invest: Use industrial and government funding for mutual benefits to realize strategic changes and improvements.