Congress wants spy agencies to hire more experts in financial intelligence, emerging technology

Congress wants spy agencies to hire more experts in financial intelligence, emerging technology.

Congress is pushing the Central Intelligence Agency and other members of the intelligence community to make a concerted effort to hire individuals with expertise in financial intelligence and emerging technologies, as spy agencies ramp up recruiting efforts across different technological backgrounds.

The fiscal 2024 intelligence authorization bill, included in the defense bill passed by lawmakers this week, would require the director of national intelligence to work with the CIA, the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to submit to lawmakers “a plan for the intelligence community to recruit, train, and retain personnel who have skills and experience in financial intelligence and emerging technologies in order to improve analytic tradecraft.”

The plan would be due no later than 180 days after the bill is passed into law.

Intelligence community leaders have been increasingly focused on the nexus of national security and emerging technologies. The 2023 National Intelligence Strategy, released earlier this year, names “financial crises” and “emerging and disruptive technologies” as the potential causes behind future transnational challenges.

Cryptocurrency and other financial technologies also play a central role in cyber activities conducted by hacking groups ranging from ransomware gangs to nation states like Russia, Iran and North Korea.
Stacey Dixon, the principal deputy director of national intelligence, recently said intelligence agencies need to be able to examine the “adversarial side” of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence.

“There’s several other fields out there that if you can control them, you will have a huge advantage,” Dixon said Dec. 12 during the Defense Department Intelligence Information System (DoDIIS) conference in Portland, Ore. “And we are not the only ones out there that they’re trying to actually be in that space, to be able to lead in those spaces. But we also know that we got to be able to protect against what others may be able to do.”

The report required by the 2024 intelligence authorization bill would include an assessment of whether intelligence officers who have a background in financial and emerging technologies are “well integrated into the analytic cadre” of relevant IC elements.

It would additionally include “an identification of challenges to hiring or compensation in the intelligence community that limit progress toward rapidly increasing the number of personnel with such skills.”

And it would include a strategy, with “measurable benchmarks of progress,” to increase the number of analysts with those skills by Jan. 1, 2025.

The NSA is in the midst of its biggest recruiting push in more than three decades, while the intelligence community writ large is considering novel recruitment and retention approaches to attract a younger-generation of officers, in particular.

Lawmakers press IC on workforce ‘mobility’.

Congress also continues to press the intelligence community officials on efforts to increase the ability of employees and contractors to move between elements of the IC, a concept known as “mobility.”

Within 180 days, the 2024 intelligence authorization bill would require the director of national intelligence to develop and implement a “policy and performance framework” to ensure the mobility of the IC workforce.

The plan should consider processes including human resources, medical reviews and access to different levels of classified information.

One of the major roadblocks to mobility across the IC is the hesitancy of one spy agency to accept a security clearance determination made by another one, a concept referred to as “reciprocity.” In the absence of reciprocity, a spy agency will often put a recruit through another security clearance investigation, leading to delays in the onboarding process.

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