By Marjorie Censer
Capital Business Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 10, 2010; A15
Letitia A. Long became the first woman to lead a major U.S. intelligence agency in the Department of Defense on Monday when she took over the directorship of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
The transfer of authority was made atop a parking garage at the agency's sprawling new Springfield campus, which is about 83 percent complete.
Long, formerly the deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, takes over NGA from Vice Adm. Robert B. Murrett, who had run the organization for four years.
At the transfer ceremony, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates praised Murrett, who he said pushed for more NGA analysts and support staff in war theaters and oversaw agency work after the Haitian earthquake and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Gates said Long is the right person to take over the NGA, which "has grown into a critical link in America's intelligence apparatus."
An Arlington resident and Annapolis native, Long began civilian federal service with the Navy in 1978 and 10 years later moved to the Director of Naval Intelligence staff. She has served as Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence and deputy under secretary of defense for intelligence for policy, requirements and resources.
She becomes the NGA's fifth director. Retired Lt. Gen. James R. Clapper Jr., confirmed as the new Director of National Intelligence last week, oversaw it from 2001 to 2006. Two women, Toby Gati and Phyllis Oakley, served as assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research (INR), leading the state department's member of the U.S. intelligence community.
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency was founded in 1996 as the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, bringing together work by the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Reconnaissance Office, among others. It was renamed in 2003.
About 8,500 of the agency's 16,000 employees soon will work at the new campus, which the agency is calling "NGA Campus East." The 130-acre tract just outside the Capital Beltway in Springfield once was a proving ground and is part of Fort Belvoir, though not connected.
Construction continued Monday on the eight-story main building that will serve as the NGA's headquarters. Part of a larger Pentagon base realignment program, the site will consolidate local employees who work in about a half-dozen locations, including facilities in Bethesda, Reston, Fort Belvoir and the Washington Navy Yard. About a third of NGA's workers are based in St. Louis.
Although the original concept for the new campus proposed 10 separate buildings, the NGA's workforce pushed for a single main building to unite the organization, said Tom Bukoski, the agency's assistant program manager for design and construction.
Some employees are already using the campus -- a technology center is in operation -- but most of the workforce will begin relocating in January. The site offers parking for about 5,000, and Bukoski said the agency is trying to assist with carpools. Additionally, the organization plans to operate shuttles to public transit. Murrett said the facility will help the agency accelerate its work, and Long promised NGA will continue its close collaboration with the rest of the defense and intelligence community.