/* */

08 May 2007

Geography and the intelligence community’s destiny

While the following WSJ opinion piece is an analysis of internal US population movement from a perspective of politics, the underlying demographic trends are of great importance to the intelligence community – largely because the key recruiting and retention demographics of professionals in their early 20’s to mid 30’s will be responding most closely to these drivers. And if not they themselves are not under the financial and other quality of life pressures, then there will certainly be related family and friendship dynamics that may spark flight from traditional coastal metropolitan areas.

The DC metro will keep growing, but will it contain the kind of people the community needs? Or will they flee as quickly as professional options elsewhere allow, leaving the GS-15/SES overclass to manage ever-smaller ranks of -7’s and -5’s; while contractors by default assume responsibility for production with distributed virtual teams (enjoying better quality of life with investments in good connectivity out in flyover country) led by a few highly paid consultants in DC, on site and on point? We know where we would rather be in that equation…

And for all the efforts directed at recruiting first generation immigrants with key language and cultural skills (expected to comprise a larger percentage of the coastal urban population), vetting still remains a difficult issue – to say nothing of differing standards of previous education, professional standards, and any of a host of other issues that have not yet been addressed when integrating multicultural offices into the specific organizational frameworks of the IC. (Not insurmountable issues, but these are matters that will require strategic thought and good management, things that are apparently not exactly commodities in abundance within the vaults, given the evidence of recent surveys.)

We are betting on what the profession’s future may look like, and it is not going to be the centralized campus sprawl of the big industrial age paradigm (with all the parking problems, lack of space, and politicized battles over conference rooms). It will be more like many smaller variants of the instant office, and those offices probably won’t be in DC.

H/t Captain’s Quarters