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OIG Notes Improvements in Collecting, Managing and Protecting Open Source Intelligence

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) says that the Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) is improving its process for collecting, managing, and protecting open source intelligence (OSINT) for operations and intelligence. 

OIG acknowledged I&A’s recent efforts to address known challenges related to insufficient guidance and technology, but said additional process improvements are needed to ensure intelligence reporting is effective. 

Stakeholder feedback indicated further improvements are needed to issue open source intelligence reports in a timely manner. For example, as we previously reported, I&A’s Open Source Collection Operations (OSCO) did not release a single OSIR related to the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol until two days later, on January 8.

OIG attributed the challenges to insufficient policies and procedures to guide staff in their daily work, inadequate internal controls and training to promote adherence to standards and requirements, and reliance on an outdated and unreliable information technology system to create and disseminate reports.

During OIG’s fieldwork, I&A began to resolve some of the challenges by drafting new policies, revising training, and upgrading its technology. 

Beginning in January 2021, I&A took numerous steps to enhance training, competency, and managerial oversight of the OSINT program to ensure that standardized training adheres to all oversight parameters set forth in I&A’s Intelligence Oversight Guidelines. Specifically, the Intelligence Training Academy conducted multiple reviews of the various types of training content provided to open source personnel. These reviews also included meetings with Intelligence Community partners to align with tradecraft best practices. The Intelligence Training Academy also coordinated with internal stakeholders prior to developing curriculum updates that should deliver the most up-to-date principles for an OSINT practitioner. As of December 2021, all OSCO personnel have taken the updated training and as of April 2022, all certified release authorities and content managers have received content release authority training. The Intelligence Training Academy has continual courses scheduled through the rest of 2022 and can adjust their content and training timing based on OSINT program needs.

Additionally, in August 2021, I&A deployed the Better Open Source System to modernize processing. Implementation of the new system improved efficiency, effectiveness, and tracking of OSINT report production. 

Read the full report at OIG

Kylie Bielby
Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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