On Tuesday, July 12, the Intelligence and National Security Foundation (INSF) hosted “Trusting the IC,” the second webinar of the three-part, Future of the IC Workforce multimedia campaign. Underwritten by Avantus, the webinar featured Kelli Arena, Chief of Strategic Communications at NSA, Neil Wiley, a former Executive at ODNI with a 38-year-long career in the Intelligence Community, and moderator, Lindy Kyzer, Director of Content at ClearanceJobs.
Starting the conversation, Kelli Arena revealed that 64% of Americans believe the IC plays a vital role in our society. One issue that Ms. Arena pointed out was that there is a lot about the IC that the public does not know. It can be hard to break through the information silos people create for themselves, especially on social media. Mr. Wiley also noted that it is a policy decision for the IC to engage with the public and that the Community should think very carefully about when it is appropriate to have a voice in the public environment. The public has the right to know the authorities of the IC and who makes up its institutions. However, there is a difference between transparency and disclosure.
Program underwritten by Avantus
Moving on to individual government stakeholders. Both panelists agreed that, in general, the level of trust is high between the IC and policymakers. However, they admitted there is a slight ebb and flow in the level of trust at senior levels when personalities change. Ms. Arena also highlighted the importance of not being subject to the political leanings of the day. Mr. Wiley stated profoundly that members of the IC are not born with the right to be believed; they must reestablish trust every day. The same is true with our foreign partners, with whom Mr. Wiley said trust is the only coin of the realm. If there is no trust between these partners, there is no exchange.
In building trust with stakeholders, whether they be foreign partners, policymakers, or the public, Ms. Arena laid out her three pillars as “competence, humanity, and integrity.” Mr. Wiley agreed, stating that the more these stakeholders know about IC, the workforce, the ethical process, etc., the more they will trust the IC.