Multi-Class Operations to Power Intelligence Missions

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Choosing Promising Work

Not all work is created equal. Picking the wrong scope for the hybrid model can limit its value, create risk, or even create more re-work than efficiencies. Hybrid efforts rely on clear work packages that can be communicated to the low side and discrete work products that can be easily moved back to the high side. We’ve developed a framework to identify the high-impact contract scope that can easily be packed for unclassified development and then flowed back up to classified operations. For example:

  • On Program A, our team pioneered a methodology that creates discrete sprints for developers to work on. We limited development to software systems where classified software updates had caught up to the latest unclassified systems to ensure compatibility. Each work package is clearly defined and fast enough to integrate with (and avoid delaying) classified agile activities.
  • On Program C, we identified work packages that required full cloud capabilities and/or faster prototyping and development time and translated them to unclassified requirements for unwitting staff to create. Some work packages remained applicant-facing on the low side, while others were migrated up by cleared staff.

Defining the Right Model

The IC has a very broad range of functional and operational areas. All these technical, analytical, and management areas include activities that use different skills, workflows, and systems. These variables determine whether areas are promising candidates for the hybrid model. They also shape decisions about the kind of model needed to achieve the desired outcomes. This means determining how much (and which) work makes sense to do unclassified, how many staff to float between high and low, and what aspects of the model create the most value. For example:

  • On Program A, using not-yet-cleared staff grew our developer pool and created cost savings, but not greater efficiency or productivity. When we identified the developers with the most severable (can be cleanly separated) and compact (fast-turn) work packages and moved them to an agile remote-work posture, developer productivity rose by 20%. Working remotely, developers were able to find more productive work cadences.
  • On Program B, our program security plan showed levels of classified knowledge needed to do different parts of the development workflow (requirements down and product up). We matched staff with the right skills and clearances to those workflow steps. And we provided guidance on how to translate between workflow steps and classification levels. This clarified our requirements-definition process and identified what roles operated between classified and unclassified, when, and how.

Overcoming Contract Limitations

Nearly all IC contracts have clauses that define clearance levels and/or the need to work onsite. This standard language prevents hybrid workforce opportunities from the start. We have worked with clients to modify clauses to safely enable clearance and location flexibility. For example:

  • On Program A, we proposed contract language that allowed remote work from contractor sites, stipulated requirements for background checks on not-yet-cleared staff, and focused cleared staff on the unclassified to classified transfer to ensure work products were compatible with classified systems once moved up.
  • On Program B, we proposed language to create staff flexibility on contract, including defining the range of contractor staff that requires staff-like clearances and limiting what lesser cleared staff could have access to.

The IC has only just begun to reap the benefits of hybrid workforce initiatives—or multi-class operations. As these examples show, the three big challenges are, in fact, huge opportunities.

Picking the right work helps maximize the value of hybrid operations with workforce access, savings, productivity, and/or resilience. Defining the right model helps reduce risk by creating the right combination of staff, organization, location, technology, and operational workflows. And overcoming contract challenges enables effective operations in unclassified environments.

Every hybrid workforce initiative will include unique solutions. Leveraging lessons learned, leading practices, and proven tools and frameworks is the first step to success.

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