On July 22nd, Misty Tullar, the Director of BPO, CFO, and the Career Field Manager for Financial Management at NRO, joined INSA’s Executive Vice President John Doyon to discuss her roles, how the NRO uses its resources, and the budget process for an intelligence agency.
Ms. Tullar began by emphasizing the value that NRO places on financial management. In her roles, she consistently works with leadership as well as employees throughout the organization which allows her an understanding of what the NRO truly needs when she engages with Congress and the Executive Branch.
The NRO is relatively small compared to other members of the IC and Ms. Tullar feels this is a strong benefit because it leads to a family-like culture where employees are constantly supporting each other. She emphasized that everyone at the NRO understands what the overall mission is and how their work contributes directly to support elements of the core mission.
In her role as CFO, Ms. Tullar’s primary responsibility is to build, defend, and execute the NRO’s budget. She must ensure that the budget is comprehensive across all offices, missions, and functions and that it directly reflects the DNRO’s priorities. To achieve this, she emphasizes regular synchronization and engagement with the Executive Branch and Congress to ensure all entities are updated and working towards the same goal. Her biggest challenge in this role is balancing all the requirements and demands that arise in a budget-constrained environment.
If Ms. Tullar could change one aspect of the IC’s budget process, she would loosen the rigidity of the undertaking in certain situations. The NRO builds its budget in response to the director’s priorities, which includes the goal of being as responsive and flexible in their programs as possible to defend the nation from adversaries. Sometimes, the bureaucracy of the budget and decisions made in the budget cycle are not as flexible as the threats that the NRO seeks to counter.
For those interested in entering the financial management field in the IC, Ms. Tullar emphasized the importance of business management to intelligence organizations as it plays a vital role in translating strategic priorities into actionable programs. Having worked at multiple intelligence organizations during her career, Ms. Tullar reflected on the opportunity that financial management gave her to both grow up in a specific organization and to move to other government positions, including those within the IC.
For those interested in getting emerging technological innovations into the pipeline for evaluation at the NRO, Ms. Tuller suggests The Director’s Innovation Initiative.