National Intelligence Reform: An Organizational Alignment Analysis

  • Lieutenant Colonel David Lineback

Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the nation demanded answers. What did we know? What did we miss? Could we have prevented the attacks? The 9/11 Commission determined that the attacks might have been prevented had the Intelligence Community (IC) connected the dots. The commission recommended reforms to integrate the IC and improve information sharing. The resulting Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA) was heralded as the most significant reform of the nation’s IC since the National Security Act of 1947. Nearly a decade since the IRTPA’s passage, critics claim the IC remains fundamentally unreformed. Using an organizational analysis tool known as the McKinsey 7-S Model, this paper explains why reform has not been achieved. The model analyzes the alignment of seven key organizational elements—strategy, structure, systems, staffing, skills, style, and shared values—to evaluate the IC’s effectiveness. Using this analysis, this paper offers 12 recommendations to improve the IC’s alignment and integrate it into an effective enterprise capable of meeting 21st-century challenges in a volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous environment.