RELEASE: The Intelligence Community’s Lack of Business Insights Are Harming Its Mission, CAP Analysis Finds

Washington, D.C. — The U.S. intelligence community (IC) is woefully behind when it comes to tracking and understanding the value of the work it produces, leaving an $81.5 billion enterprise unable to make informed decisions about how best to allocate resources, according to a new analysis from the Center for American Progress.

The CAP issue brief urges the IC to harness the power of business analytics to improve the performance of its mission. It explains why the IC is late to adopt modern business intelligence practices and makes the case that the IC should invest in developing its own sophisticated business analytics standards and methodology before it spends billions to acquire new systems and technologies.

Without these insights, the issue brief says, the IC is essentially flying blind. It tracks almost no data about those who consume intelligence, including the president and his or her national security team, policymakers, law enforcement, the military, and Congress. The IC has surprisingly little understanding of which intelligence tools and products actually inform policymakers, and at what cost or return on investment.

“Before the intelligence community invests billions of dollars in new and existing tools and technologies, it should first invest in understanding its own business model,” said Katrina Mulligan, managing director for National Security and International Policy at CAP and co-author of the issue brief. “It should collect data about the reach and impact of its work to make objective and data-driven decisions about where to invest scarce resources in the future.”

“Although the intelligence community’s technological achievements have seriously advanced the intelligence business over the past 20 years, we don’t know enough about which tools really make the difference,” said Matt Olsen, senior fellow at CAP. “That needs to change.”

The issue brief’s recommendations include:

  • The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) should make systematic, high-quality business data a top priority for the IC.
  • The Director of National Intelligence (DNI) should create a set of uniform metrics for IC business data.
  • Congressional oversight committees should require IC leaders to show how they are using quantitative data to improve decision-making.
  • The National Security Council should support ODNI efforts to improve IC business data collection and quality wherever possible.
  • The DNI should require the use of uniform IC business data standards across the IC.
  • The ODNI should create a unit tasked with deriving insights from IC business data.
  • The IC chief data officer should meet regularly with individual department and agency business analytics units to share insights based on what is learned.

Read the issue brief: “What the Intelligence Community Doesn’t Know Is Hurting the United States” by Katrina Mulligan, Matt Olsen, and Alexandra Schmitt.

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at  or 202-478-6327.