Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence lays out top priorities


In this two-part interview, Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence Susan Gordon outlines the incremental improvements made in the National Intelligence Strategy, and provides an update on intelligence community priorities

The National Intelligence Strategy provides a roadmap for the United States’ intelligence community to follow for the next four years. Several objectives are included in the strategy, among them are improving integration, innovation and partnerships. Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence Susan Gordon told Government Matters that one of the most important NIS objectives is to improve transparency.


“Transparency, that’s a pretty interesting word to put with intelligence. One, [that’s] a conversation with the American people we want to have. We learned after Snowden that that was something we needed to be better at, and if the American people knew what we were doing for them they would be like ‘Oh! I’m glad they’re there.’” Gordon said. “We need to be much clearer about the basis for our assessments.”


Another key objective laid out in the strategy is integration. Gordon said that the Bin Laden raid was the perfect example of the level of cooperation that the intelligence community needs, and the goals in the strategy are looking to maximize how the IC develops.

“The integration we need now, is that I need my information systems to be integrated so I can move data at speed. I need my personnel systems to be integrated. Integration is changing,” Gordon said. “In innovation, we think technical innovation. I can’t tell you, but we are great technical innovators. But now, what we need to do is innovate how we onboard people. How we develop their expertise over the course of their career. How we work with partners, what information we share, what our intelligence products look like to be resonant with an entirely different customer set.”


It was recently announced that the security clearance backlog has dropped considerably since last year. Gordon said that streamlining the process while maintaining trustworthiness is key to modernizing the intelligence workforce.


“We hold the trust of the American people in our hands. Making sure all of our employees are worthy of that trust is why we have a security process and security clearances. But we want to be competitive, we’re in a different world. We want to use more data and i want to be able to bring the talent I need, that is trusted and vetted in at a competitive speed so we can keep on serving the nation,” Gordon said. “…We need a common framework so each agency isn’t pursuing it differently, apply machine learning so we can drop the time; look at the people over the course of their careers so it is not just an occasional investigation. We need to spot the problems before it arises.”