Standard Intelligence Test

By Stephen Barr
Thursday, January 3, 2008

The keepers of the nation's secrets soon will be evaluated against common standards on how well they analyze problems, share information and stand behind their professional judgments.

Those job performance standards and others will apply to all rank-and-file civil service employees in the government's intelligence community, according to a directive issued last month by the director of national intelligence, Mike McConnell.

It marks the first time that the employees, across 16 agencies, will be evaluated according to the same performance requirements.

Intelligence agencies have been faulted in Congress and by independent commissions for missing opportunities to detect the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists and for a flawed analysis of the threat posed by Iraq under Saddam Hussein. In a bid to pull intelligence agencies closer together, Congress approved a law in 2004 that permits the director of national intelligence to set policies for managing intelligence employees.

The new directive does not create a single personnel system for the intelligence employees but lists a set of factors -- such as collaboration, critical thinking, communication skills, technical expertise and integrity -- that agencies should use in annual job evaluations of non-supervisory personnel.

"This is all about trying to create an institutional culture for the intelligence community," said Ronald Sanders, chief human capital officer for McConnell.

The new job performance standards are to take effect no later than Oct. 1, although some intelligence agencies may implement them sooner. They apply to employees at General Schedule Grade 15 and below. A companion directive on performance standards for senior intelligence officers is nearing completion.

Sanders said the new standards will be critical to the success of a "joint duty" program announced last June that permits intelligence employees to rotate through assignments in various agencies to gain broad experience. The rotations help determine who gets promoted, and having a common set of performance standards will make it easier to compare employees who work in different agencies, Sanders said.

The job standards will not have an immediate bearing on pay raises, but a study is underway on moving intelligence employees into a performance-based, market-oriented compensation system. Changes affecting pay will be phased in, probably over a five-to-six year period, Sanders said.

The directive provides leeway to the agencies on how they implement the standards but envisions they will use a five-level rating system that assumes most employees should be able to meet job expectations and achieve a "successful" rating, the system's midpoint.


Rose B. Kaplan, area director for 16 Social Security Administration offices in the Washington area, retires today after more than 40 years with Social Security. She recently received a commissioner's team award for her work on the severely injured Marines and sailors project to expedite the processing of military casualty claims.

Annette Hanopole, a grants management officer and branch chief at the National Institutes of Health, retires today after 32 years of federal service.

John E. O'Brien, an information technology project manager in the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, retires today after 33 years of federal service.

Kenneth R. Papaj, commissioner of the Treasury Department's Financial Management Service, retires today after more than 34 years of federal service. Before being appointed as commissioner, Papaj served from 1998 to May 2006 as the agency's deputy commissioner.

Brigid Quinn, deputy director for public affairs at the Patent and Trademark Office, retired Dec. 31. Prior to joining the agency, Quinn worked as chief of staff to John A. Wilson when he was on the D.C. Council, as a senior legislative analyst for a House committee and as a speech writer at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

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