/* */

24 June 2007

Pursuing the 28%

Issues of recruiting and retention of the next generation of intelligence professionals have been much on our minds as of late. We grapple with the endless difficulties created by bureaucracy, culture, and rent-seeking behaviors on the part of government and contractors throughout the community. We are witness to the effects of the demographic shifts within so many agencies, and the often confused responses to the changes that those shifts have created. We are also keenly aware of the unparalleled dysfunction of the clearance process and security system – acknowledged by all, remedied by none.

We are not alone in writing about these issues. Haft of the Spear & Mountain Runner highlight a classic case of a candidate caught between worlds and hamstrung by a system he cannot understand nor maneuver in. (While his attitude early in the process was unhelpful, and likely led him in part to his current straights, we view this as much a failure of the recruiting process as anything else. We should not expect candidates to want to come to the three letter world anymore – rather we must sell them on why they would want to, else we will lose them to other places more compatible with their lifestyles and desires.)

The pool of candidates is simply too small to keep losing the good ones. As Former Spook notes, we are looking at somewhere less than 28% of the population of 17-24 year olds as new entrants into the community (and of those, the ones we need most perhaps make up an even more distressingly small percentage). The ones that are interested in our community are perhaps only a fraction of that total…

Every day, opportunities are slipping away to find, inspire, and keep the best and the brightest. Time and again, shops devolve as their linchpin performers leave for greener pastures; and those that remain are the ones who dictate policies and products which are mired firmly in the worst sort of mediocrity.

It is not enough to say “the system” is too large and complex for effective change. It is not enough to call for reform of the organization chart without looking at transformation on the line, and at mission management level.

Another graduating class has just left the intelligence studies academy, and the stories of their travails in navigating the hiring process will no doubt continue to surface over the course of the summer. And for every story that is told, there are a dozen others in which the candidate quietly slipped off the a high paying position in the civilian world, looking at competitive intelligence (or management consulting) – using the very same skillsets so much in demand in the community.

Each one of those is a failure by the administrative and functional nightmare that is the IC’s hiring processes, and in each of those individual failures lies the roots of the next major national intelligence failure.

Labels: , ,