National Intelligence University's Role in Interagency Research

Recommendations from the Intelligence Community

by Judith Johnston, Natasha Lander, Brian McInnis

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Research Questions

  1. What are the context and characteristics of the Intelligence Community (IC) research entities?
  2. What needs do IC research entities have?
  3. What perceptions do IC research entities have of the National Intelligence University?
  4. How can NIU most effectively collaborate with IC research entities?

The Center for Strategic Intelligence Research (CSIR) of the National Intelligence University (NIU) is responsible for supporting faculty and student research efforts and coordinating NIU research activities with the Intelligence Community (IC). A challenge to these coordination efforts lies in the fact that research being conducted regularly in the IC exists, for the most part, in small pockets throughout a number of different IC agencies. To better identify collaborative research opportunities, topics, and processes, CSIR asked RAND to conduct a study that would capture information about these research entities, their responsibilities, and their willingness to support interagency research with NIU. The study team conducted semistructured interviews with a purposive sample of representatives of research entities in the IC. The interviews discussed interagency research and collaboration with NIU. We found that the majority of these research entities are small (less than ten full-time staff), face the competing responsibilities of short-term analytic responses and longer-term analysis and research, and are interested in research plans aligned with national priorities. The research entities are willing to support NIU, but expect NIU to take the lead in facilitating research collaboration.

Key Findings

IC Research Entities Are Willing to Collaborate with NIU

  • Faced with the competing demands of many critical, time-sensitive tasks, small staffs, and limited resources, research entity representatives stated the need for more opportunities to conduct longer-term, strategic research and analysis.
  • IC research entity representatives were interested in NIU research plans aligned with national priorities and NIU research products that complement the research being conducted by their entities.
  • Interview participants were willing to provide limited support to NIU for a number of academic activities (e.g., guest lectures, student mentoring, providing potential thesis research topics).

But Some Conflicts Remain

  • Interview participants still perceived NIU as a Defense Intelligence Agency/military intelligence institution and were cautious about accepting NIU as the IC's educational institution.
  • While the research entities believed that NIU should be responsible for selecting research topics for its students and faculty that are relevant to the IC, NIU has a responsibility to its students and faculty to support their research interests and allow for academic freedom.

Recommendations

  • NIU and CSIR should use a systematic approach to identify potential collaborators based on student/faculty interest and what is known about the research entity's interests and motivation.
  • NIU should investigate and implement strategic research plans that represent NIU's vision and the research interests of faculty and students while also complementing IC interests.
  • NIU should increase and maintain awareness of community-wide access to NIU research resources; familiarize each IC agency with NIU's mission, needs, and resources; and strengthen communication and collaboration efforts outside of student research.
  • NIU should develop a framework and methods for formalizing relationships with IC entities that ouline the specific roles and responsibilities of the parties involved.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Data Collected: Interviews and Literature

  • Chapter Three

    Findings

  • Chapter Four

    Recommendations

  • Chapter Five

    Concluding Observations

  • Appendix A

    Interview Instrument

  • Appendix B

    Research Entities in the Intelligence Community

This research was sponsored by the National Intelligence University and conducted within the Intelligence Policy Center of the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

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