How to fix the DNI: Make it a service office, not a phony headquarters

How to fix the DNI: Make it a service office, not a phony headquarters

Here’s a guest post by Guy Filippelli, a former Army intelligence officer with experience in both Afghanistan and Iraq, where he was one of  the unsung heroes of the surge era. He says the DNI really needs to be ENI — that is, the “Enabler of National Intelligence.”

By Guy Filippelli
Best Defense deputy chief intelligence bureau

First, the DNI needs to excel as a “service” organization. I know at the senior levels we like to speak about a “J2” or “principal advisor.” I believe a more fitting comparison in certain areas might be to a HQ or Special Troops BN Commander.

Second, the DNI needs to “manage the commons” — data, clearances, enterprise software licenses, general training, program management, etc. Major improvements in these areas would win major fans among the agencies.

Third, the DNI needs to be a “collaborative enabler” — hosting physical and virtual engagements to bring together the individual agencies and the outside world of business, academia, etc.

What I’m trying to get at here is a mindset shift. It’s not about taking control of the agencies, it’s about discovering where the opportunities exist to add value to the existing processes. The DNI needs to simply start with “what’s broken?” or “what’s under-performing?” and start to reinforce.

By the way, I think this is fundamentally inconsistent with putting a 4 star admiral accustomed to running a massive, hierarchical organization in charge. This was doomed from the outset. We need somebody used to putting “the client” first — in this case, the client need equally be the subordinate agency as well as the White House. I’d rather see the CEO of a major services company step in. I rarely advocate for the McKinsey types, but this might indeed be a good fit for one of that culture.