NIMA seeks name change that fits its expanded role

NIMA seeks name change that fits its expanded role

The National Imagery and Mapping Agency has submitted a proposal to President Bush recommending that the administration change the agency's name to the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.

The proposed new name 'more accurately captures our mission and what we do, rather than the perpetuation of the legacies of imagery intelligence and geospatial information,' said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James Clapper, the agency's director.

The NIMA moniker has become somewhat outdated and fails to describe the work of the intelligence agency, which is changing, Clapper said.

National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, or NGA, would better reflect the current effort at the agency to link imagery and maps from multiple databases into a 'ubiquitous knowledge map,' he said. This map will feature 'as much geospatial intelligence data as we can populate, with the users drawing from the sum of these databases.'

NIMA was created in 1996 by merging the former Defense Mapping Agency and several other Defense Department image- and intelligence-gathering arms. Its chief work turns on acquiring and providing the government's intelligence community with imagery and maps. But as carryover from its disparate parts, NIMA has handled the collection of imagery and maps as separate functions, agency officials said. As NGA, the agency would unify those programs, Clapper said.

The proposed name change requires Bush's approval as well as a law change by Congress.

Clapper said he first sent his proposal to the White House last year as 'part of the standard process of submitting legislative proposals and is currently being staffed within the administration.'

The proposal dovetails with a new strategy Clapper released last week to vendors at NIMA's Industry Day at the Defense Intelligence Analysis Center at Bolling Air Force Base, Washington. That document detailed the agency's plan to unify its assets into a series of geographic information systems accessible via Web browser [see story at www.gcn.com/vol1_no1/dod/21014-1.html].

The strategy introduced the term geospatial intelligence into the lexicon of national security, Clapper said. He defined it as the integration of NIMA's existing imagery and maps into a digital information environment that will be interoperable with other government intelligence systems.

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