On the afternoon of April 22, the Hon. Ellen McCarthy, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), and Benjamin Brake, Director of the Office of Cyber Affairs, INR, Department of State, joined INSA to kick off the weekly Wednesday Wisdom virtual event series. Held weekly, Wednesday Wisdom is designed to foster communication and facilitate information sharing with some of our community's most innovative leaders. During the 45-minute program moderated by INSA president Suzanne Wilson Heckenberg and sponsored by Guidehouse, McCarthy and Brake discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic has, and has not, affected operations at INR.
Right off the bat, the speakers reinforced that INR has always been "lean and mean"—their workforce is their strength—and that has not changed. As stay-at-home orders have been put into place, some INR employees continue to work in the office while abiding by health and safety recommendations and others have been working from home, Ms. McCarthy shared. Such arrangements have not affected operations, though, and the Bureau is still functioning at a very high level.
Similar to the rest of the world, the challenges presented by COVID-19 have also exposed some areas in which INR will need to adjust. For example, the Hon. Ellen McCarthy said that the COVID-19 crisis has shed some light on how INR is using its resources and prioritizing certain efforts, which has informed its recent recommendations to policymakers. Benjamin Brake also spoke about how INR has been increasing open-source information processing and is working on even more efficient methods of sorting through massive amounts of data from a cybersecurity/cyber-intelligence perspective.
More than 400 people tuned-in for the Wednesday Wisdom debut, asking questions and sharing insights on social media throughout. As INSA begins to transition into the virtual event world, this first attempt served as a wonderful reminder of how supportive, engaged, and committed to the mission our nation's intelligence community is. Coming up next is a virtual panel discussion focused on COVID-19 Supply Chain Challenges, a Wednesday Wisdom with Sue Kalweit, Director, Analysis Directorate, NGA, and the first Coffee & Conversation session with Kevin Meiners, Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Enterprise Capacity, ODNI.
Full Program Recording
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