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FAS Intro: The following press release issued by Robert Steele of Open Source Solutions, Inc., outlines a proposed intelligence budget framework that would give due emphasis to open source intelligence.


OSS Inc. Provides Plan for One Third Cut in U.S. Intelligence
Community Budget--Reduces Deficit by $10 Billion Per Year

Contact: Mr. Robert D. Steele, President
ceo@oss.net or (703) 242-1701

After twenty years of service in the U.S. Intelligence Community, including years of experience in three of the four Directorates of the Central Intelligence, years as a military intelligence officer, and a culminating period as the founding Deputy Director of the U.S. Marine Corps Intelligence Center, Mr. Robert D. Steele turned to open sources--to publicly and legally available information--as the best foundation for a national intelligence community. The Commission on Intelligence agreed with him, castigating the U.S. intelligence community for being "inexplicably slow" to provide its analysts with access to open sources, labeling this a "critical deficiency", and stating in no uncertain terms that open sources should be "a top priority for the DCI [Director of Central Intelligence] and a top priority for funding". It is in this light that the recent decision of the Executive Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, where primary responsibility for open source access and exploitation lie, must be considered: the de facto dismantling of the Community Open Source Program Office planned for 1998, and the draconian reductions of the Foreign Broadcast Information Service, a precious national resource, also planned for 1998.

Mr. Steele, the leading advocate for creating smart nations by providing unclassified intelligence support to government decision makers, corporate leaders, public diplomacy partners, coalition military allies, and citizens, today released the following memorandum and an explicit budget which identifies savings goals that would reduce the U.S. intelligence community budget from $30 billion a year to $20 billion a year by the year 2000, while realigning one billion dollars a year to a National Knowledge Foundation under the oversight of the Vice President--the "content" element which has been absent from the National Information Infrastructure.

In releasing this proposal, Mr. Steele's intent is to ensure that the forthcoming hearings to confirm the nomination of the new Director of Central Intelligence are undertaken in full awareness of the urgent need to radically alter the balance between spies and scholars while creating an unclassified "virtual intelligence community" which is responsive to the needs of the public and public diplomacy.


The memorandum which follows, based on contributions from highly qualified experts (not myself) has been distributed recently to key Administrative and Legislative decision-makers--it proposes specific measures for reducing the U.S. Intelligence Community budget from $30B a year to $20B a year, while simultaneously ear- marking $1B a year for a robust open source intelligence (OSINT) program.

Sadly, despite strong efforts by myself and many others since 1992, the U.S. Intelligence Community has decided to completely ignore the recommendations of the Commission on Intelligence regarding the critical nature of its deficient access to open sources, at the same time that the President has chosen to avoid confronting the U.S. Intelligence Community and indeed has in his neglect allowed an unheard-of turnover rate of one per year for five years in the critical position of Director of Central Intelligence.

There is no one now in the Intelligence Community, and no one known to me outside the Intelligence Community, poised to bring to the position of Director of Central Intelligence the unique combination of brains, brass, vision, and character necessary to ensure that we enter safely and prosperously into the 21st Century. I therefore choose to publish this memorandum, as my contribution to the dialogue and in the hopes that a candidate for the position of Director of Central Intelligence can emerge-- a candidate who is committed to informing governance and the public, not simply collecting secrets for secrets' sake.

If the U.S. Intelligence Community does not radically alter its spending patterns, and dramatically increase its exploitation of both open sources and world-class experts without security clearances, then the day will come when the President and other key members of the government will testify to Congress that they do not use classified intelligence, they do not need classified intelligence, and they will not pay for classified intelligence. On that day, we will find ourselves in the worst of all possible conditions: deluged by open sources of mixed reliability, and completely bereft of the unique and necessary perspectives which can only be offered by an all-source intelligence community capable of secretly collecting "the hard stuff" while providing its world-class multi-lingual analysts with the broad contextual and encyclopedic contributions which only open sources can offer readily and at very low cost.

This memorandum (below) is very real--if radical change is not forthcoming, this memorandum represents a "best case" scenario, rather than the now-more-likely scenario of more severe cuts without rationalization, and without an appropriate investment in open sources. I have given up on the U.S. Intelligence Community, and I now turn my attention to teaching government consumers of intelligence how to help themselves to OSINT.

Robert D. Steele, OSS CEO, 13 Dec 96


The evolving international environment, on-going commercial and technological developments, and recent public policy initiatives make it an ideal time to rightsize the intelligence budget and streamline the intelligence community for the 21st Century. Some of the major trends affecting US intelligence are:

A downsized intelligence community of approximately two-thirds the size of the current $30B enterprise that is attuned to and confirms with these trends appears both attainable and desirable.

The major steps that would need to be taken to realize these goals are:

1. Infrastructure and support services (about 25% of the intelligence budget) should be commercialized and postured to take advantage of technological developments. For example:

Many of these changes would provide a short-term double benefit because past investments in dedicated government capabilitiese would continue to be utilized without replacement and the transition to contract commercial services would occur gradually.

2. Conventional human source collection, both overt and clandestine - about 10% of the budget - should be drastically reduced in favor of increased open source exploitation.

3. The increasing availability of commercial satellite and other non-intelligence (open skies, NASA's MTPE and SAR) imagery, image processing and geographic information processing and production should be allowed to supplant previous dedicated intelligence capabilities (about 20% of the intelligence budget).

4. Re-engineer the US SIGINT system - about 35% of the intelligence budget - for rapid, selective response/reaction vice massive, worldwide volume collection and processing.

[OSS Inc. modifies this element to sanction the NSA focus on information warfare but to require that the service information warfare centers and the Defense Information Systems Agency be fully integrated into a National Electronic Defense Office which is co-equal to the newly-established Federal Bureau of Investigation's Electronic Security and Counter-Intelligence Program--DoD should be charged with realigning $1.0B per year to the FBI for the latter program.]

5. Substantially reduce the standing armies of intelligence production personnel and other resources - about 10% of the intelligence budget - in favor of increased reliance and support on commercial and contract analytical services. (SAVINGS GOAL: $1.0B).

6. Increase international data sharing and intelligence collaboration in all phases of collection and production in anticipation of the continuing need for and reliance on coalition operations.

[OSS Inc. modifies the above element to note that open source burden sharing agreements--as opposed to clandestine and technical burden sharing agreements--do not exist today, and to observe that the single most promising area for global intelligence cooperation between governments and in support of the United Nations is in the open source arena; hence, in addition to sharing the load on the classified side, the U.S. should aggressively pursue open source burden sharing agreements which include hard-copy document acquisition, digitization, and translation.]

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