Intelligence Community Personnel:

Strategic Approach and Training Requirements Needed to Guide Joint Duty Program

GAO-12-679: Published: Jun 20, 2012. Publicly Released: Jun 20, 2012.

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What GAO Found

All of the Intelligence Community (IC) elements except for one are participating in the Joint Duty Program and the IC elements generally view the program as beneficial. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), the Defense Security Service, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, and 15 other IC components have identified an office or individual responsible for facilitating the program. However, the U.S. Coast Guard (Coast Guard), which ordinarily operates under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), does not participate in the program, even though the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 and IC guidance stipulate that the Joint Duty Program applies to the defined IC, which includes the Coast Guard’s civilian personnel in its National Intelligence Element. Coast Guard officials stated it delayed its participation in the program because it first plans to conduct a workforce study that will determine how the Coast Guard will participate, but it has not identified a timeframe for the study’s completion, and the position assigned to conduct the study is currently vacant. As a result, personnel in other IC elements may not fully understand the Coast Guard’s intelligence mission and Coast Guard employees may have limited opportunities to collaborate with other IC elements.

ODNI has not established a strategic framework to guide the implementation of the Joint Duty Program across the IC. GAO has noted in prior work the importance of having a strategic framework to guide program implementation. However, ODNI has not clearly defined the program’s mission, established performance goals, and measured progress toward achieving those goals. Further, program officials told GAO that they collected IC element data on joint duty rotations, but GAO found that they had not used these data to evaluate progress toward achieving program goals. In addition, although the Director of National Intelligence has emphasized the importance of the program, GAO found that the ODNI Joint Duty Program Office Chief position has experienced repeated turnover since the program’s inception. Specifically, five different people have served in the Joint Duty Program Chief position in the past 3 years. Further, ODNI officials stated that the Joint Duty Chief position had recently been downgraded from a Senior National Intelligence Service position to a General Schedule 15 position. Absent a comprehensive strategic framework that transcends turnovers in program leadership, program efforts are disjointed, and decision makers within ODNI lack the information they need to successfully manage the program.

ODNI also has not formally established professional training and education programs to support the Joint Duty Program, as directed in 2007 ODNI guidance. ODNI has identified three IC-related courses intended for personnel participating in the Joint Duty Program but has waived the requirement to complete these courses. Officials from nine IC elements expressed various concerns about the content and rigor of the three courses, such as that the courses could be duplicative of existing agency-specific training courses. Further, ODNI has not yet determined or documented the program’s training requirements in guidance and has not yet developed a plan and timeline for implementing the training. As a result, ODNI is not positioned to use the Joint Duty Program to foster the widest possible understanding of intelligence requirements, methods, users, and capabilities.

Why GAO Did This Study

In the years following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Congress enacted the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, which gives the Director of National Intelligence the responsibility to establish a personnel rotational program (the Joint Duty Program) across the IC. The intended purpose is to facilitate IC personnel’s understanding of the wide range of intelligence requirements, methods, users, and capabilities. GAO evaluated the extent to which (1) IC elements are participating in the Joint Duty Program, (2) the ODNI has developed a strategic framework to help ensure the effective implementation of the Joint Duty Program, and (3) ODNI has established training and education programs to support the Joint Duty Program. GAO reviewed the Joint Duty Program’s legislative requirements and guidance, analyzed data on program participants, and interviewed program officials from the entire IC.

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends that DHS take steps to have the Coast Guard participate in the Joint Duty Program. GAO also recommends that ODNI develop a strategic framework to implement the program across the IC and that ODNI establish and document the program’s training requirements and develop a plan and timeline for implementing them. DHS and the Coast Guard agreed with GAO’s recommendation to the Coast Guard. ODNI generally agreed with GAO’s recommendations, but raised concerns about the findings on performance goals and the strategic framework. GAO continues to believe in the findings as stated in the report.

For more information, contact Brenda S. Farrell, (202) 512-3604 or farrellb@gao.gov.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: To implement those provisions of IRTPA that address joint training and education and facilitate the widest possible understanding and collaboration among the IC, the Director of National Intelligence should develop a formal plan and timeline to implement the training and education component of the Joint Duty Program.

    Agency Affected: Office of the Director of National Intelligence

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) had, at the time of our report, partially agreed with our recommendation, stating that ODNI needed to provide formal guidance regarding the learning component to the Joint Duty Program, and stated that it would develop this guidance in conjunction with its revision of the Joint Duty Program policy. However, in written response to follow-up on this recommendation, ODNI reported in July 2013, that it was eliminating the formal training and education requirement from the Joint Duty Program.

    Recommendation: To implement those provisions of Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA) that address joint training and education and facilitate the widest possible understanding and collaboration among the IC, the Director of National Intelligence should establish formal training and education requirements for the Joint Duty Program, revise the existing policy guidance to clearly identify and describe these requirements, and eliminate the waiver that is currently in the guidance.

    Agency Affected: Office of the Director of National Intelligence

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) had, at the time of our report, partially agreed with our recommendation, stating that ODNI needed to provide formal guidance regarding the learning component to the Joint Duty Program, and stated that it would develop this guidance in conjunction with its revision of the Joint Duty Program policy. However, in written response to follow-up on this recommendation, ODNI reported in July 2013, that it was eliminating the formal training and education requirement from the Joint Duty Program.

    Recommendation: To improve the effectiveness of the implementation of the Joint Duty Program and to help ensure that institutional knowledge about the program transcends the individual tenure of each serving Joint Duty Program Chief, the Director of National Intelligence should develop a comprehensive strategic framework for the Joint Duty Program. This framework could include things such as (1) clearly defining its mission, (2) establishing performance goals, (3) developing quantifiable metrics for measuring progress toward achieving performance goals, (4) determining the financial resources necessary to accomplish the mission of the program, (5) using performance information and metrics to make decisions to improve the program, and (6) communicating results effectively with each of the IC elements.

    Agency Affected: Office of the Director of National Intelligence

    Status: Open

    Comments: This recommendation remains open pending action from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). According to ODNI, efforts to develop a comprehensive strategic framework for the Joint Duty Program are under development. ODNI anticipates this strategy will serve as a roadmap for the program. ODNI also stated that the governing directive for the program was rewritten and issued in February 2013 shifting the focus from leadership development to one of developing a culture of collaboration in the Intelligence Community.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that personnel in all of the IC elements fully understand the U.S. Coast Guard’s intelligence mission to secure the nation’s ports and coastal waters, that the U.S. Coast Guard’s civilian intelligence employees do not miss an opportunity to develop collaborative relationships with and to understand other IC elements, and that U.S. Coast Guard civilians remain viable for promotion to senior positions requiring joint duty credit, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard to take steps to participate in the Joint Duty Program consistent with ODNI policy and guidance.

    Agency Affected: Department of Homeland Security

    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that personnel in all of the IC elements fully understand the U.S. Coast Guard's intelligence mission to secure the nation's ports and coastal waters, that the U.S. Coast Guard's civilian intelligence employees do not miss an opportunity to develop collaborative relationships with and to understand other IC elements, and that U.S. Coast Guard civilians remain viable for promotion to senior positions requiring joint duty credit, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard to take steps to participate in the Joint Duty Program consistent with ODNI policy and guidance.

    Agency Affected: Department of Homeland Security

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: GAO recommended that the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard take steps to participate in the Intelligence Community Joint Duty Program consistent with Office of the Director of National Intelligence policy and guidance. The U.S. Coast Guard concurred with this recommendation. On November 6, 2012, the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard issued Commandant Instruction 12333.1: Coast Guard Intelligence Civilian Joint Duty Assignment Program. The Instruction establishes the policies, procedures and requirements for the Coast Guard Intelligence Civilian Joint Duty Assignment Program. The instruction is aligned with guidance established by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. By issuing this guidance, in response to our recommendation, and establishing the U.S. Coast Guard's participation in the Intelligence Community Joint Duty Program, the U.S. Coast Guard is enabling personnel in the other Intelligence Community elements to more fully understand the U.S. Coast Guard's intelligence requirements, methods, users, and capabilities and the U.S. Coast Guard's Intelligence Community employees will have an opportunity to better understand other IC elements' missions, cultures, and capabilities, and to improve collaboration with other Intelligence Community elements.

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