11 January 2010

Bureaucracy Kills

Today's National Post has an article by "Ishmael Jones" and "Michael Ross," respectively former operatives of the CIA and Mossad. They describe how the CIA's bureaucracy prevented information about the Christmas Underwear Bomber from properly being assessed and disseminated within the agency, and to those who needed to know at the TSA. They write:
There are so many managers and administrators, in so many separate and loosely organized chains of command, that not only is acquiring the intelligence a stroke of luck, but getting it to where it needs to go, on time, is almost impossible. This is in sharp contrast to the Israeli intelligence community, which has worked to eliminate unnecessary layers of bureaucracy and implemented clear lines of communication and guidelines for inter-agency intelligence sharing.

The Mossad’s organizational culture scorns bureaucracy because it recognizes the danger in excessive layers of management. Its counterterrorism division alone supervises and directs all terrorist-related intelligence obtained from overseas sources. The intelligence received is promptly assessed, analyzed and disseminated as an actionable product in accordance with strict terrorist-threat protocols. This information is put into the hands of end-users who will employ it to address the threat — such as allied intelligence agencies and aviation security officials. Israel’s intelligence community has learned from hard experience that bureaucracies and hierarchies are ineffectual in fighting terrorist networks.
Ironically, according to various permutations of Structural Contingency Theories, the internal structure of an organization is, more or less, supposed to match the external environment in which it exists, or to which it must respond. Ideally, then, the CIA should quickly transform into an amorphous, decentralized network in which "when nobody is in charge, everyone is in charge."

That last bit, by the way, is taken from my thesis draft, specifically from the next chapter to be posted (expected in about three to four weeks or so). In other words, the CIA would do well to begin thinking about a transformation towards becoming a more UCaPP organization. Perhaps that's why the Sitemeter tracker logged a hit from the CIA domain recently.

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