Intelligence Analyst Shortage
Counterterrorism agencies are shopping for talent at job fairs, dangling generous scholarships and luring staff from each other in a race to overcome a shortage of analysts that may only get worse in the new intelligence overhaul. The problem existed even before Congress and the White House approved an intelligence restructuring this month that creates positions for people whose skills already are in high demand.
There is no consensus across the nation’s 15 intelligence agencies on where staffing needs are the most acute. But few dispute that many more analysts are needed, particularly in the departments and agencies created since September 11, 2001. The nearly two-year-old Homeland Security Department is a prime example. “If you had a hundred, we’d take them,” Pat Hughes, the Homeland Security Department’s top intelligence official, said in an interview earlier this year. “We have to look, search, test, assess. You don’t just get analysts off a tree. … We need people, but we need good people.”
To find them, Homeland Security and other agencies are heading to job fairs, often looking near military bases where civil service is part of the culture and people may have security clearances. They’re also trying to snag people from the private sector.
The irony of this is that the hiring process still presumes that no shortage exists. Limiting the pool to people who have active clearances or who have graduated from training courses available only to insiders makes it virtually impossible to widen the pool.