Home' Defense Systems : January and February 2014 Contents In 2012, the National Geospatial-
Intelligence Agency released its 2013-
2017 Strategy documenting the agency s
near-term vision for where it is going
in the early 21st century. e ve-year
plan, which lays out NGA s strategic
objectives and priorities, was driven by
newly appointed NGA Chief Operating
O cer Ellen McCarthy, who at the time
had just returned to government service
Having previously served as the presi-
dent of the Intelligence and National Se-
curity Alliance, McCarthy seems to have
learned the lessons of the private sector
and applied them to NGA in her COO
duties overseeing the daily business
activities of the agency. " e concept of
attaching resources to priorities are basic
business principles, but it s new for this
agency," she told Defense Systems.
Contributing editor Greg Slabodkin
recently spoke with McCarthy about
NGA s strategic planning, priorities for
scal year 2014, and those technologies/
tradecra the agency is seeking to capi-
talize on going forward.
DS: What was the genesis behind
NGA's 2013-2017 strategy docu-
McCarthy: I came back about a year
ago, a er spending time in the private
sector, and as the chief operating o cer
my primary focus is implementing our
strategy. When I came into the role,
what I noticed was that we had seven
strategic objectives and lots of imple-
mentation plans under each of those
objectives, but they weren t necessarily
integrated. My focus coming in was to
work on the strategies for 2013-2017
and identify what is NGA going to look
like in 2018. What is the tradecra ?
What are the technologies? How do we
look on a very basic level?
Without a strategy document, some-
times we all have a di erent vision of
DefenseSystems.com | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014 13
DS: What is NGA's "Map of the
McCarthy: A priority is getting our
Map of the World up on all three secu-
rity domains [unclassi ed, secret, and
top secret]. is goes to the idea about
GEOINT being the foundation for
multi-source intelligence. It s the con-
cept that this community can go to one
map and hit a point and get everything
they need from foundation data to in-
telligence. It will be there in all security
domains and it will be easy to use. And,
it is a priority for FY14.
DS: You mentioned that one of
NGA's priorities in scal 2014 is
Activity-Based Intelligence (ABI).
There's been a lot of talk about
ABI. You have been quoted as
saying that ABI "reveals what
we don't know and helps us nd
what doesn't want to be found."
Has NGA embraced ABI?
McCarthy: Absolutely. We are now
looking at how we are aligning re-
sources and making investments for
those priority initiatives this scal year.
It s absolutely fair to say that Activity-
Based Intelligence has been openly em-
braced within NGA. Right now, we re
at the point where we are laying out
these portfolios and identifying what
speci c components of ABI we need
to resource rst in FY14. It really is the
heart of our business.
DS: As a concept, ABI has been
around for a number of years.
From your perspective, is there
some new technological ad-
vancement or something about
the threat environment that re-
ally makes ABI attractive at this
McCarthy: Yes, it s not a new concept.
It s now being embraced by the larger
intelligence community and I think
there are a couple of outside factors that
what that end state is supposed to be.
And, so, we developed the future state
vision, which identi es in some level
of speci city how NGA is expected to
Our second challenge, of course, was
we needed to establish some processes,
but we were also faced with signi cant
budget cuts and sequestration. We knew
we were faced with signi cant budget
cuts but sequestration only added to
the challenge. Given that our resources
were declining, we had to gure out
how we were going to better invest what
few resources we had with our priorities
broken out by scal year.
We hadn t really done that before.
And, we decided that the tool we would
use to actually start managing to our
priorities, once we identi ed them, was
portfolio management. We established
ve portfolios. We reverse-engineered
the future state vision and identi ed
what our priorities were in scal 2014,
2015 and 2016. It s about identifying our
priorities, aligning resources to those
priorities, and then empowering our se-
nior leaders to make resource execution
and divestment decisions.
DS: Speci cally, what priorities
are you focusing on in scal year
McCarthy: e things that we are fo-
cusing on in FY14 really are those tools
and tradecra related to structured
observation management, Activity-
Based Intelligence, and we re also
focusing on the Globe --- which is our
customer service component and how
we are getting our data out on all three
security domains. We also have some
internal business initiatives related to
being more agile in how we make these
decisions --- agile acquisition and agile
business. Next-generation collection is
our other priority. So, those are our big
initiatives in 2014 and we re aligning all
of our resources towards them.
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