Spy IT Shake-Up

Meyerrose sets new, consolidated course for intel tech community

Dale W. Meyerrose

Dale W. Meyerrose is taking command of intelligence agencies' IT, from procurement to standards to certification and accreditation of systems, and he isn't bashful about how he is doing it.


The retired Air Force major general and current associate director of national intelligence and CIO of the intelligence community is centralizing how all covert agencies, including the CIA, National Security Agency and others within the Defense Department will buy, use and manage technology.


Meyerrose's reforms are a part of the federal overhaul of the intelligence community, which started when Congress passed the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act last year and the administration created the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.


Meyerrose's proposed changes -- which some experts said will not be easily implemented throughout the intelligence agencies -- promise to replace the current ad hoc method of coordinating IT acquisition via interagency committees. Meyerrose said there will be a new approach to technology procurement.


In two recent speeches, at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association Homeland Security Conference in Washington and at a separate AFCEA lunch in Virginia, Meyerrose emphasized that the intel reform bill establishing the DNI office gave the CIO four critical responsibilities:

Manage the enterprise architecture and IT governance of the entire intelligence community

Exercise procurement authority over IT for the entire intelligence community

Manage the acquisition process for the entire intelligence community

Manage IT research and development in the intelligence community.


Meyerrose has stated clearly that the former system of managing intelligence IT decision-making by committee has ended. He said he had counted more than 100 committees, Tiger Teams, councils and other groups that were working on specific projects, and that they would be dissolved.


Meyerrose said that in any situations where the CIO office would say 'no' to specific activities within the intelligence community'presumably including acquisitions'he would make the decision himself, rather than delegating it.
Rather than run the intelligence IT world by edict, Meyerrose said he planned to work as an advocate of his intelligence community partners.


'These are some truly daunting responsibilities,' he said.


Meyerrose emphasized that he personally does not have an agenda, but that he would support the missions of the front-line intelligence agencies.


He noted that, during his confirmation hearing, several senators asked how he would coordinate activities with the Pentagon. 'Most of you know [Defense CIO] John Grimes,' he told his AFCEA audience. 'He and I have been friends for three decades. He and I have pledged that there will be no daylight between us [on IT issues]. We will work together.'


Intelligence agency employees and contractors who heard the speeches noted that Meyerrose, a highly decorated officer who formerly was director of command, control, communications and computer systems at the Northern Command, appeared quite decisive. 'He's not afraid,' one DNI office employee said.


James Carafano, senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, noted that Meyerrose's plans have yet to bear fruit. 'It depends on how the CIO decides to exercise his authority and the support he gets from the White House and what kind of opposition he gets from Congress,' Carafano said. 'Even if you get all the intelligence agencies on the same sheet of music, you still have oversight from different committees in [Congress]. Those committees frequently have different agendas for the direction of intelligence IT.'


One industry executive who sells network services to the intelligence community said, 'It is clear that he is setting his priorities and agenda.'


A second intelligence community IT vendor, who recently retired from the intelligence community, noted that Meyerrose's campaign to publicize the authority over IT decisions that Congress granted to the DNI office likely would help him gain control of intelligence technology.


'You could contrast this to the position of the 'drug czar' [director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy],' the former federal intelligence IT executive said. 'The drug czars failed to gain control over the anti-drug programs of the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration and then simply became advisers to the president.'

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