NSA preps for first major reorganization in two decades

The National Security Agency is considering a reorganization to prepare for future threats and a changing security landscape.

NSA director Adm. Michael Rogers said during a Sept. 24 congressional hearing that he will receive a reorganization recommendation report  on Oct. 1 and  will  review the draft as early as this weekend.

Rogers told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he asked the NSA workforce to focus on three areas to improve the agency: optimizing employee output, broadening the role of cyber and the actual organization structure.

“If you were building NSA from the ground up today, is this the structure you would have created?” Rogers said. “Our structure reflects a series of changes and choices that have literally been made over the last 20 years. The last major organizational change at NSA on a wide swath was 1999, 1998, coming up on 20 years ago now, and the world has really changed and the missions have evolved and I just want to make sure we are optimized to meet the future.”

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Rogers then will use those recommendations to inform his reorganization decisions. He also said he wanted the entire workforce to be involved in the evolution of the agency and did not want the reorganization to come from just the leadership.

The three areas Rogers asked for recommendations on came from a previous batch of more than 200 suggestions  from employees.

While employees are currently interested in the agency, Rogers said the atmosphere of budget uncertainty and the looming shutdown are major concerns that could impact employee recruitment and retention.

“I’m always mindful of the advanced indicators … that we are going to lose more [employees] than we can bring in. I would tell you the workforce at NSA and at [U.S.] Cyber Command still will talk to me about the shutdown in 2013 as an example,” Rogers said. “The situation we are facing now and what the workforce is reading in the media right now is not helpful.”

Rogers said the NSA workforce is frustrated by the potential lack of work and pay, especially when they could go to the private sector and make significantly more money.

Not only will the shutdown have a negative effect on the NSA workforce, but it will also directly compromise national security, Rogers said.

Information Sharing

During the hearing, chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said he would bring cyber sharing legislation to the committee floor in October.

The Cybersecurity Sharing Act of 2015 would let companies share cyber threat information with the federal government.

By collecting vulnerability and attack information from industry, the government would gain insights on potential threats and cybercrime trends. Opponents of the bill worry that it will just let the government collect more data on citizens since companies gather so much data on their customers.

The House version of the bill passed in April by an overwhelming majority. The bill’s sponsor, Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) recently said the United States was reaching a tipping point in the need for cyber sharing legislation.

“With the daily growing cyberattacks … you would think there would be the political will to get something done,” Nunes said Sept. 10. “We are only trying to get to that first step of just allowing company-to-company to talk, company-to-government talk, just to talk about the threats.”