The Transformation of the NSA Focused on
Four Strategic Goals
Statement for the Record by Mr William
B. Black, Deputy Director, National Security
Agency, Before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Building
Capabilities: The Intelligence Community's National Security Requirement for
Diversty of Languages, Skills, and Ethnic and Culltural Understanding,
November 5, 2003.
Thank you very much Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member, and
Members of the Committee for the opportunity to report on the National
Security Agency’s (NSA) progress in meeting the Human Resources (HR) and
diversity challenges that are central to the continued transformation of the
NSA. Enhancing our expert workforce and effectively leading and managing our
people is a critical task and the key to constructing the unified, end-to-end
enterprise needed to achieve and maintain information superiority for America.
Since 1999, in concert with the Director Central
Intelligence’s (DCI) Strategic Intent, the transformation of the NSA has been
focused on four strategic goals:
Ensure responsive intelligence information and
information assurance for national decision-makers and military commanders.
Continuously modernize the cryptologic system by using
advanced technology to provide solutions for the production and protection
Shape the NSA workforce to meet SIGINT and Information
Assurance mission challenges.
Maximize the use of resources through effective business
processes and prudent risk to achieve and sustain responsive Signals
Intelligence and Information Assurance solutions.
NSA has made great progress in each of these areas but much
remains to be done as we embark on the Director’s new vision of Transformation
2.0: Cryptology as a Team Sport. This vision furthers the above goals by
focusing on dependencies not only within NSA/CSS, but increasingly on
dependencies beyond the fence line in the larger DoD and Intelligence
communities. Faced with a variety of changes that include increasing the scale
and scope of computer network operations; expanding and in some cases
tailoring our products to serve customers at the federal, state, and local
levels; meeting new demands necessitated by precision targeting; tracking
people and discrete things as well as organizations and nations; and
automating processes throughout the enterprise, we will succeed only by
improving NSA’s collaborative relationships across the board.
Our future objectives include:
Blending the SIGINT and Information Assurance missions;
Integrating the strategic and tactical SIGINT enterprise;
Transforming customer access to the SIGINT process stream;
Taking the lead in teaming by enabling more Community
collaboration along our five business lines: get it; know it; use it; manage
the mission; and manage the enterprise.
Because people are key to the successful accomplishment of
all of these goals and their associated programs/initiatives, NSA articulated
a workforce strategy that is based on growth, skills alignment and knowledge
transfer. The strategy outlines the Agency’s need to grow the workforce to
meet increased mission challenges and to acquire the next generation of SIGINT
and Information Assurance professionals. But this growth will not take place
equally across the Agency. It is targeted toward specific areas and realigns
skills to enhance capabilities and readiness in language, focus on analysis,
increase our ability to exploit the global network, preserve our expertise in
cryptanalysis, strengthen our target development activities, protect our
people, and modestly augment some of the enabling functions. The strategy also
addresses the Agency’s critical need to transfer knowledge between the expert
on-board population and the new generation. This is vital to our future
success and a critical aspect of transformation.
NSA has made significant progress in hiring, recruitment,
retention, skills mix, and training. Despite successes in these areas, NSA
recognizes that its diversity is an area in which improvement is essential to
sustaining our mission. NSA also recognizes, of course, that these steps to
ensure diversity in our workforce must be consistent with the Consititution's
guarantee of equal protection. We have taken initial steps to improve the
situation, to include moving the responsibility for diversity management to
the office that has successfully managed other HR initiatives.
After Years of Downsizing We are Increasing
the Size of the Civilian Workforce
Between FY1990 and FY2001 NSA reduced civilian manpower by
32 percent through voluntary means. With this Committee’s support, NSA’s
manpower authorizations increased by 400 in FY2002, 428 in FY2003, and 965 in
FY2004. This growth allowed for significantly increased hiring programs to
fill current vacancies and the additional authorized billets with 820 new
hires in FY2002, 1125 in FY2003, and 1500 projected for FY2004. As the Agency
moves forward, it is now working with the Administration on the budget to
increase civilian billets between FY2005 and FY2008 to enhance the existing
workforce with the multidisciplinary, analytic, and technical personnel needed
to transform the cryptologic enterprise.
This growth also presents a significant opportunity to
increase NSA’s diversity. Fifteen percent of the Agency’s workforce has been
hired since FY2001 and the growth projected in the manpower strategy would
allow NSA to increase that percentage to 40 percent by FY2008. As an example
of the opportunity presented by this influx of personnel, the Agency hired as
many minority employees in the past two years (350 in FY2002 and FY2003) as it
did in the previous four years (FY1998 through FY2001).
We Continue to Improve Recruitment Processes
NSA continues to improve its recruitment processes and
expand its presence in the job marketplace. This past year NSA recruiters
logged more than 290,000 miles on 268 recruiting trips to 102 schools in 44
States and one Territory. As a key part of the effort to hire more than 1100
new employees and build a pipeline for FY2004, these trips included 27
colleges and universities that have a significant minority population (i.e.,
African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Pacific, and Native American) and 19
NSA’s student programs, especially the Cooperative
Education, Summer, and Stokes Scholarship (formerly Undergraduate Training
Program) programs, serve as a prime source of new employee recruits by
providing college students and graduates with Agency operational experience.
Graduates of these programs can immediately begin productive and responsible
assignments. As such, these programs are key feeders into the Agency’s
full-time hiring program.
Other major recruiting improvements include:
Establishing an Employee Referral Program, which
encourages Agency employees to refer qualified candidates to the NSA Office
Doubling participation in Intelligence Community
collaborative recruiting events from 4 to 8;
Outsourcing scheduling, welcome center, and data entry
functions, which provides a high level of professionalism;
Awarding a new advertising contract, which offered the
opportunity to highlight diversity issues;
Refreshing the print media;
Enhancing web site features and functionality;
Deploying a new auto call center voice mail system to
Hiring recruiters with private sector experience;
Initiating a recruiter training curriculum;
Publishing the third edition of NSA’s award-winning
recruiting CD (recognized for excellence by the national advertising
industry) and effectively using other new promotional items to market NSA as
a quality employer (thanks to this Committee’s support for legislative
authority to execute this function);
Using invitation-only career fairs and skill group
interview sessions resulting in over 200 hires; and
Establishing a language hiring bonus and awards program
to compete in the extremely competitive language hiring market.
We would be happy to brief you at a later time on our plans
for a new print media and web site advertising campaign in the spring of 2004.
But We Also Need to Retain Talented People
Over the past two years NSA transitioned its workforce to
an annual evaluation cycle that links rewards and recognition directly to
performance. At the same time, NSA encouraged managers to push the decision
level for promotion and awards down to the lowest possible level so that
managers can recognize those who are key to achieving the Agency’s mission.
NSA increased the overall budget for recognition (10 percent for promotion and
seven percent for awards) at a time when employees were giving their all to
support the Global War on Terrorism. In addition, the Agency received an
additional $2.5 million specifically to recognize employees whose efforts
supported the war in Iraq.
NSA used retention bonuses to keep critical employees from
leaving. Judicious use of these incentives allowed the Agency to retain just
over 100 personnel primarily within the SIGINT Directorate, the Information
Assurance Directorate, and in Research areas. NSA also set aside $1.5 million
dollars for lump-sum performance awards for individuals demonstrating
outstanding work in several of the Agency's most important and sensitive
missions. Fifty-eight percent of these funds were offered to personnel working
the SIGINT mission and 42 percent were used for the Information Assurance
We’ve Focused Our Hiring Program On Core
One of the pillars of the NSA workforce strategy is skills
alignment, i.e., identifying the skill mix necessary to meet future goals and
objectives. This includes evaluating the current work force skill mix,
defining mission goals, matching the skill mix to the mission goals, and
developing a plan to get from here to there. Hiring efforts in FY2003 were
aligned with this plan. Over ninety percent of all FY2003 hires held a
Bachelor’s degree or above and the new hire class holds a 3.41 average G.P.A.
NSA exceeded its hiring goals the last three years and
maintained an 18.4 percent diversity-hiring rate. This is remarkable given
that much of the Agency’s hiring took place in the areas of language,
analytical, and technical skills that traditionally have less diverse
applicant populations. In addition, NSA achieved its best diversity results in
computer science, organizational leadership and management, signals analysis,
security, and cryptanalysis.
Student programs hired an additional 333 students and
achieved a 21 percent diversity rate while shifting the skills of
approximately 25 percent of its FY2003 Cooperative Education, Summer, and
Stokes Scholarship program skills from Electrical/Computer Engineering and
Computer Science to language and intelligence analysis. New for FY2004 is the
Graduate Training Program, in which six outstanding technical undergraduates
in Electrical/Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Systems Engineering, and
Information Operations were recruited to continue their education at the Air
Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) and the Monterey Postgraduate School (MPS).
The Committee’s inclusion of language authorizing this program in the FY2003
Intelligence Authorization conference report is greatly appreciated.
In addition, NSA’s goals in FY2004 include a new two-year
Stokes Program, geared towards students who have already started the study of
a language in college; a significant increase in the percentage of language
students accepted into the four-year Stokes Program; and the development of a
High School Native Speaker Program, with a projected implementation date of
fall 2004. Through this latter program, NSA will employ high school seniors,
who have a native capability in a critically needed language, as high school
work-study students, then employ and mentor those students through college
while paying their college tuition. NSA also plans to bring in additional
language students by participating in the Intelligence Community Analyst
Training Program, when it becomes available.
We Are Particularly Focused on Language
In the past, much of the foreign language material that NSA
processed for national security was somewhat formatted. We basically knew who
our enemies were and we knew pretty much what to expect. That is no longer the
case. Our enemies can be anywhere, and many of them would do us harm in ways
that were previously unfathomable. While target and mission expertise is still
critical for successful SIGINT work, the foreign language proficiency of the
language professional is essential to successfully protect our country. We
must understand not only the words, but also the intentions behind the words.
This is defined as Level 3 proficiency, which DIRNSA documented in April 2002
as the formal requirement for working cryptologic language.
At NSA, the Senior Language Authority works in a
collaborative partnership with the Military Services and the Defense Language
Institute/Foreign Language Center (DLI/FLC) on plans to bring the entire
cryptologic language workforce, military and civilian, to Level 3. These plans
identify a need for considerable increases in funding to support adjustments
in training, assignments, and numbers of billets.
In this new environment, retaining skilled language
professionals is particularly important. Earlier this year, NSA rewarded the
qualified and stable staff of professionals who have the requisite language
proficiency by increasing the Foreign Language Incentive Pay ceiling for
civilians and encouraging DOD action for commensurate military increases in
Foreign Language Proficiency Pay. In addition, the DIRNSA recently approved
the second step - the Language Analyst Recruitment Bonus and Milestone Award
Program. This program consists of two parts. First, a recruitment bonus for
new hires will be used to enhance NSA's ability to set starting pay for
language analysts at competitive levels. Second, a two-year milestone award
program will serve as an incentive to retain new language analysts and
encourage them to attain Level 3 language proficiency in the language for
which they are hired.
Thanks to the support of this Committee in the FY2003
Intelligence Authorization Act, NSA is working with the National Security
Education Program (NSEP) and the National Foreign Language Center (NFLC) on
21st Century Distributed Learning (LangNet). This groundbreaking work at the
University of Maryland revolutionizes language education in
less-commonly-taught languages (LCTLs) and at higher levels. This is
accomplished by providing just-in-time language learning and maintenance
opportunities on demand at a learner’s convenience night or day through the
Internet. To date, more than 1000 learning objects in 15 languages have been
While the optimal language-learning environment remains a
classroom, building a language workforce at the Level 3 proficiency requires
21st century alternatives. All learning objects align with the
specific learners’ preferences and needs based on diagnostic assessments. All
are unclassified and can be shared throughout the nation at large and
particularly with the new Flagship Universities, which sponsor programs
designed to produce Level 3 proficient graduates in such languages as Arabic,
Chinese, and Persian-Farsi. NSA is proud to support and advocate for this
first-ever language-related academic initiative for our nation.
In Calendar Year 2005, Two Major Language
Initiatives Will Begin
A new capability-driven language testing system will allow
NSA to streamline its language assessments. NSA will go from its current
two-part performance-based testing system to a one-part proficiency-based
assessment of reading and listening comprehension. In alignment with the
Director’s goal for all language analysts to maintain a minimum of Level 3 in
reading and listening, additional funding has been allocated in FY2004 and
beyond to provide training opportunities at the NSA National Cryptologic
School with local vendors and, where possible, immersion training. NSA is
committed to providing continuous learning and development opportunities for
its language workforce worldwide. All language analysts are encouraged to
pursue a variety of proficiency performance opportunities to maintain and
improve their language readiness.
The second major initiative is the Center for Advanced
Study of Language (CASL) at the University of Maryland: The nations’ 10th
University Affiliated Research Center (UARC). The CASL at the University of
Maryland will ensure sustained, sophisticated research in language and
linguistics, critical to intelligence work related to the Global War on
Terrorism. CASL represents a significant step toward strengthening our
nation’s language competence by building a community of researchers actively
engaged in the practical scientific exploration of a skill so critical to the
defense of our nation.
Intelligence Community and Department of Defense Language
Boards (composed of senior professionals from NSA, CIA, DIA, DLI, FBI, State
Department, and the Services) identified the requirement for the UARC as part
of an end-to-end solution to address and improve the U.S. government’s foreign
language deficiency. In addition to its value in foreign intelligence, the
initiative will support effective response to language skill deficiencies
identified by combatant commanders and combat support agencies.
With an understanding of the critical nature of languages
in national security, CASL will perform innovative research that is framed in
the reality of classified missions. The research paradigm will shift from a
traditional academic approach to a more pragmatic approach, investigating and
improving how language professionals apply their skills in actual language
work. Research will be responsive to the requirements collected, documented,
and prioritized by U.S. government language professionals. CASL will also
support the federal and national language skill communities by sharing
knowledge, conducting independent evaluations, and fostering language and
CASL will initially be comprised of approximately 80
University of Maryland staff members and U.S. government personnel, growing to
150 to 200 personnel over the next five years. NSA, collaborating across DoD
and the IC, will coordinate research priorities based upon unique and crucial
needs of member components. NSA, DoD, and IC component agencies will provide
technical leadership for management of the center and will integrate language
professionals from their components into the research activity itself.
We’re Ensuring a Well-Trained Workforce with
Current Skills to Meet NSA’s Evolving Needs
NSA is committed to providing the highest level of
training, development, and educational opportunities for its employees. In
addition to offering a myriad of in-house, specialized technical, and
cryptologic training, NSA contracts with academia, industry, and consultants
to enhance the business and management skills of the workforce. NSA has a
proud reputation of supporting the continuing education of its employees, and
for FY2004 spent over $6 million to support continuing after-hours educational
NSA is an active partner in the Meyerhoff Scholarship
Program created at the University of Maryland at Baltimore County in 1988 with
a substantial grant from the Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Foundation. The program
supports high-achieving students who are interested in pursuing doctoral study
in the sciences or engineering, and who are interested in the advancement of
minorities in the sciences and related fields. The National Science Foundation
and The New York Times recognized the program as a national model. NSA has
been supporting the program at an increasing level since 1992. The current
grant allows NSA to sponsor up to 10 students.
The Agency’s new Center for Leadership and Professional
Development has begun creating career road maps for the NSA workforce
throughout the 22 skill communities to which they belong and creating
opportunities for employees to share technical knowledge and work experiences.
NSA is aligning training and development initiatives with the mission needs of
individuals, professional communities, and organizations and with values
critical to the NSA transformation.
NSA is dedicated to developing the leadership in all of us,
no matter the level of the organization or the job title of the employee,
whether the individual is a manager or a technical leader or an individual
contributor called upon to lead a project or collaborate with a partner agency.
While NSA’s leadership and professional development efforts are focused
primarily on strengthening the capability of team leaders, supervisors,
managers, and senior leaders to achieve mission success through others, we
recognize the need for all our employees to hone both their technical and
leadership skills. Each NSA employee must be ready to assume leadership roles
when the challenge arises and, for transformation to take hold, each employee
must participate fully in this team sport called cryptology.
Within the Agency’s new Center for Leadership and
Professional Development, we launched an ambitious program of training and
development targeted at both basic leadership competencies and specific
management skills. In addition to management and leadership courses, we are
offering opportunities for leadership assessment, coaching, mentoring, peer
networking, and on-line resources to complement and reinforce learning.
NSA recently increased its ability to link diversity with
strategic Human Resource policies, plans, and programs by placing the Office
of Diversity Management (ODM) in the Associate Directorate of Human Resource
Services (ADHRS). This move emphasizes the importance of attaining a diverse
workforce by including ODM personnel in the development of strategic manpower
management initiatives. The closer integration of these two offices will
greatly increase partnership opportunities with key human resources personnel
responsible for program development and administration, workforce planning,
recruitment and hiring, employee relations, dispute resolution, and customer
service and support.
The DCI emphasizes diversity as a corporate imperative a
strategic goal and states, Our people are our most precious assets not
satellites, or light tables or high-speed computers. NSA needs to recruit and
retain the best that America has to offer from all of her people.
NSA has reaffirmed its commitment to diversity well beyond
the recruitment and hiring initiatives mentioned above. Diversity is not just
about fairness; it is mission critical. We incorporated this principle into
our strategic and business planning and day-to-day operations.
NSA employees routinely provide leadership and consulting
services to the Community Management Staff, IC partners, and the Defense
Equal Employment Management Institute.
NSA’s EEO and Diversity Strategies are clearly linked
with the DCI Strategic Diversity Plan and are fully incorporated into the
NSA Strategic Plan.
To ensure that Diversity Management is seen as a
leadership imperative, we modified executive contracts to include Leveraging
Diversity as a critical component for success.
We established a team of six Executive Diversity
Champions from the most senior ranks of our business and six Corporate
Diversity Councils with charters designed to enable our business objectives.
We continue to offer and provide a wide range of
diversity training to all of our employees.
People remain the key to NSA’s success in the 21st
century and beyond. We remain dedicated to those efforts that will ensure that
we have a truly diverse workforce, with the right people with the right skills
in the right jobs. As we grow the workforce we have an unprecedented
opportunity to further transformation by eliminating the barriers that prevent
a truly integrated, seamless, cooperative, learning, and thriving information
enterprise. With your help, we will continue to provide the vital information
that will enable the United States to maintain a decisive information
Thank you Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee for the
opportunity to testify before you today.