CIA’s hiring strategy, IT changing over time

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What did the CIA look like at the end of the Cold War and how has it evolved since? On this week’s episode of Leaders and Legends in Government, Aileen Black spoke with Doug Wolfe, former director of science and technology at the CIA.

Doug Wolfe
Doug Wolfe, former director science and technology at the CIA

“One of the big mistakes that was made back then was we had a hiring freeze for five to seven years. And the fact that we weren’t bringing on new talent and we weren’t building relationships at universities – having people learn the intelligence trade craft over that period of time — created a gap,” Wolfe said. “And you can see that gap now in some of the ranks of senior leadership and people ready to take on some of the highest-level positions at the agency.”

Other topics covered included the agency’s reaction to and transformation post-9/11, the impact of intelligence community IT going to the cloud, and benefits of multi-cloud procurement strategy for major contracts.

As deputy director of science and technology, Wolfe oversaw numerous technological developments.

“The technology that is routinely deployed is actually very impressive,” Wolfe said. “The ability to partner with industry is increasingly important. For example, when I first came in [satellite reconnaissance] was largely government-based technology. But now you see a whole resurgence of reconnaissance technology — small sats, neo-imagers, even radar imagers that commercial companies are deploying.”

His advice for young technical professionals interested in the intelligence community was to “Go specialize in technical areas — software to bio tech to [electrical engineering] to space — and then pursue it with passion.”

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