The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) is preparing to release a brand-new National Intelligence Strategy (NIS), providing the Intelligence Community (IC) with strategic direction for the next four years.

Michael Thomas, who just stepped down as ODNI’s chief transparency officer last week, referenced an anticipated update to the Intelligence Community’s strategic guidance – which generally takes place on a four year cycle – during the Granicus Digital Communications Virtual Summit. During the event, Thomas reflected on his time at ODNI, after stepping into a new role as the director for access management at the White House’s National Security Council.

“From the Intelligence Community strategic perspective, and you’ll see this embodied in the most recent National Intelligence Strategy – we’re about to drop a new one, so keep an eye out for that – but, in the last go around you really saw the IC look at transparency and trust as key to some strategic challenges,” Thomas said.

ODNI released its last NIS in January 2019, which named cyber threat intelligence as one of seven mission objectives for the intelligence community, and addressed threats and opportunities from emerging technologies.

It also set forth an enterprise objective to forge and retain a diverse, inclusive, and expert workforce – addressing “the improvement of mission and business processes through new technologies, innovative thought, and advancements in tradecraft.”

“We need to have the best and brightest people come and join us,” Thomas said, referring again to the importance of trust in the NIS. “But we can’t have that if they fear their talents will be misused, particularly in communities that have felt historically disadvantaged by their interactions with law enforcement [and] the Intelligence Community.”

“We need to be credible, or we will be left behind, and that goes for technology too,” he continued. “If we can’t be more open and sharing in the way that we’re doing primary research, which we do a ton of, you can’t innovate. And there are some races that we totally can’t afford to lose in that space. So, at the macro level, I think those are important things for where transparency has this strategic benefit.”

The agency is overdue for a new strategy that will outline its priorities for the next four years. The NIS also supports the national security priorities outlined in the National Security Strategy, as well as other national strategies – which will now likely include the White House’s new National Cybersecurity Strategy.

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.