IC needs to share talent, innovation with private sector, ODNI’s Gordon says

The IC needs talent and so does the private sector — so a top ODNI official said they should share.
Sue Gordon speaks Aug. 21, 2018, at FedTalks in Washington, D.C.

The talent is out there — it is just not getting to the right places, Sue Gordon, principal deputy director of national intelligence, said Tuesday

Gordon cited the need to share talent between the private and public sectors and to rethink the way intelligence workers navigate their careers. The partnership needs to extend beyond human talent and include collaboration on technology and innovation that can help move the mission of the intelligence community (IC) forward, Gordon said.

“The biggest thing we have to do [is] share our demands for talent,” she said at the 2019 Amazon Web Services Public Sector Summit.

The government needs to be a “fast follower” of innovative new technologies the private sector is developing, she said. To keep pace with the rapid change of the world and its threat landscape, analyzing data is critical to the IC’s mission. In 2013 the IC invested in elastic computing developed by the private sector, a move that Gordon said set up her and the intel agencies she works with to better use data.


The IC operates in a world ripe with data, the product of global interconnectivity with ubiquitous technology. In terms of intelligence analytics, it has come as a double-edged sword. With more data comes more opportunity to make analytic decisions, but it also runs the risk of washing out important movements as noise, Gordon said.

To enable the best use of data, the intelligence community has transitioned part of its operations to the cloud while keeping some services tied to legacy IT, Gordon said. It was a move that required buy-in from all sides to ensure cloud data processing helps move the IC’s mission forward.

“When you have to understand the use of data, you need to change your mindset,” she said.

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