Dennis D. Fitzgerald

 

Fitzgerald, Dennis D. "Commentary on 'The Decline of the National Reconnaissance Office': NRO Leadership Replies." Studies in Intelligence 46, no. 2 (2002). [https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol46no2/article12.html] National Reconnaissance: Journal of the Discipline and Practice (2005-U1): 45-49. [A scanned version is available at http://www.fas.org/irp/nro/journal/index.html]

In response to Robert Kohler, "One Officer's Perspective: The Decline of the National Reconnaissance Office," Studies in Intelligence 46, no. 2 (2002): 13-20; National Reconnaissance: Journal of the Discipline and Practice (2005-U1): 35-44 [A scanned version is available at http://www.fas.org/irp/nro/journal/index.html], NRO's Deputy Director argues basically that "times are different now." The senior officers "who serve in the NRO today ... work on requirements-driven and cost constrained overhead technical collection systems in an environment characterized by public openness and intense oversight by Congress. In the Peace Dividend era, I believe that they are producing superior intelligence under conditions that Mr. Kohler and his contemporaries never experienced."

[NRO/Kohler-Fitzgerald]

Fitzgerald, Dennis D. "Commentary on Kohler's 'Recapturing What Made the NRO Great: Updated Observations on "The Decline of the NRO."'" National Reconnaissance: Journal of the Discipline and Practice (2005-U1): 59-66. [A scanned version is available at http://www.fas.org/irp/nro/journal/index.html]

See Robert Kohler, "Recapturing What Made the NRO Great: Updated Observations on 'The Decline of the NRO,'" National Reconnaissance: Journal of the Discipline and Practice (2005-U1): 51-57. [A scanned version is available at http://www.fas.org/irp/nro/journal/index.html]

The NRO Deputy Director takes particular issue with Kohler's assertion that "the NRO is unwilling to fund programs adequately." Fitzgerald points out that among the results of the 1995 funding crisis was that "[t]he absence of margin and the certainty of cost overruns presented the NRO with a reality of not being able to fund programs adequately. Another result ... was the NRO lost budget autonomy; whenever a program exceeded its funding limits, we had to go back to Congress to get permission to move money from some other program in the NRO to fix the problem."

In addition, "whenever the Intelligence Community (IC) finds itself with a financial crunch, the NRO tends to be the 'piggy bank' of choice.... [I]f CMS [Community Management Staff, now part of the DNI's Office] takes money out of the NRO, there is no visable impact tomorrow when the President looks for his intelligence. However, five years later when a needed satellite capability cannot be delivered, the NRO customers have a problem.... The current funding problem is ... that the NRO does not have the flexibility required to manage its programmatic portfolio effectively."

[NRO/Kohler-Fitzgerald]

Fitzgerald, Dennis D. "Risk Management and National Reconnaissance from the Cold War Up to the Global War on Terrorism." National Reconnaissance: Journal of the Discipline and Practice (2005-U1): 9-18. [A scanned version is available at http://www.fas.org/irp/nro/journal/index.html]

The NRO Deputy Director stresses that as the NRO "addresses the application of its resources to support the Global War on Terrorism, it is being faced not only with new emerging demands, but also with traditional demands.... However, the long-term fiscal experience has been one where the budgetary environment had been flat or declining."

From its beginning until the end of the Cold War, the NRO's successes and achievements resulted in "a reputation as an organization that was exceptionally successful at pushing the boundaries of technology and that always exceeded requirements.... This reputation and trackrecord was, in no small part, because of the streamlined financial and oversight environment that existed." But that environment changed from about 1990 forward to the aftermath of 9/11.

"Current expectations are that there can be no coverage gaps in overhead intelligence collection capabilities because the military is heavily dependent upon NRO systems and products for planning and operations." This environment "has led the NRO to become increasingly conservative in terms of ensuring continued mission performance at a time when there is also tremendous pressure to move on to the next-generation systems." NRO's "organizational imperative has shifted from advancing technology boundaries to meeting current mission requirements."

[NRO/00s/05]

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