Directorate of
Intelligence

Notes on Analytic
Tradecraft

Product Evaluation
Staff


    August 1995
 


Note 6

 
 

Analytic Expertise

 
 
This is the sixth in a series of Product Evaluation Staff notes to clarify the standards used for evaluating DI assessments and to provide tradecraft tips for putting the standards into practice.
 


Analytic expertise establishes the DI's authority to speak to an issue on which US national security interests are at stake. Demonstration of expertise in DI assessments is thus needed to gain access to and credibility with the policymakers, warfighters, and law enforcement officials who carry the heaviest burden for US decision and action on national security issues.

As with all evaluation criteria addressed in these tradecraft notes, analysts have to tailor their demonstration of expertise in individual memorandums and briefings to the circumstances of each assignment. These include the degree of substantive complexity, the analytic requirements and timeline of the policymaking process, and whether the DI production unit already has established close ties to its key clients.

As a rule though, no DI product should be delivered without deliberate effort to make it stand out from the formidable competition including other intelligence providers, journalists, scholars, lobbyists, and various additional purveyors of information and judgment:

How much expertise needs to be demonstrated? Taking space and time limitations into account, the more the better. The DI not only has to stand out regarding the breadth and depth of its analytic expertise, it also has to convince its key customers that it can put this expertise to use for their benefit.

Again, the appropriate means through which to convey expertise varies with each analytic assignment. As a general test, we recommend that analysts read their first draft critically, to answer the following questions as if they were posed by a policy official deciding whether to rely on the DI to meet the challenges on his or her agenda.


Tradecraft Tips

Research papers are natural vehicles for effective display of analytic expertise. DI veterans, over the years, have devised an armory of measures for demonstrating hard-earned individual and collective expertise even in quick turnaround papers and within the space limitations for most DI deliverables. We list below some of these measures:


Expertise in Support of the Intelligence Consumer

We end with an obvious caution. When the analysts know their clients' specific needs, demonstration of expertise is readily projected as a tool or means for providing value added With larger assessments prepared for a broader audience, more care has to be taken to avoid excessive display of knowledge - that is, substantive expertise as an end in itself. Here is where investment in knowing the timelines of the policymaking process and the specific dangers and opportunities policy officials are dealing with comes into play.

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