Sequestration would hamper intelligence integration, say DOD officials

Intelligence officials say the looming across-the-board budget cuts due in January would make efforts at integration slower and more expensive.

“If sequestration is allowed to happen it would be disastrous for intelligence,” Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper said Oct. 9 in his keynote address to the GEOINT 2012 Symposium in Orlando, Fla.

“This is going to have impact on us across the board,” he added, noting that the cuts would occur during the most diverse and demanding array of threats he’s seen in his career.

“We can only hope that this lame-duck Congress will return and do something about this train wreck.”

The sequestration required by the 2011 Budget Control Act would trim federal spending by about $109 billion a year for the next nine years, starting Jan. 2. Half of that would come from defense functions.

Congress can act to reverse the cuts in a lame-duck session after the Nov. 6 election, but the prospects for them doing so are bleak. While leaders of both parties have expressed a willingness to forestall the cuts, lawmakers have been unable to find an approach that can gain sufficient support.

Officials charged with building a common, cloud-based information infrastructure for the intelligence community and the Defense Department said the pending cuts add an additional layer of complexity to an already-challenging process and could delay integration.

The cuts also would increase the cost of a project that was in part designed to save money at a time of shrinking budgets, they said.

“Right now, the effect on JIE would be, I’ll say, traumatic,” said Rob Carey, deputy CIO for DOD, referring to the department’s Joint Information Environment program.

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Director Letitia Long said sequestration would hamper her agency’s efforts to develop a new, more secure information architecture.

“It doesn’t give us the ability to prioritize. It doesn’t give us the ability to manage the risk,” she told symposium attendees.

About the Author

Charles Hoskinson is a contributing writer for Defense Systems.

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