Directorate of
Intelligence

Notes on Analytic
Tradecraft

Product Evaluation
Staff


    October 1995
 


Note 8

 
 

Implementation Analysis

 
 
This is the eighth 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.
 


This note discusses Implementation Analysis, one of the techniques for extending customized intelligence support to policymakers, law enforcement officials, and warfighters outlined in Note 1, Addressing US Interests in DI Assessments.

Implementation Analysis provides decisionmakers and action takers with an assessment of tactical alternatives for pursuing opportunities and averting dangers regarding established US policy goals. The role of the analyst complements but is distinctive from the role of the policymaker:

Analysts identify and evaluate alternatives for implementing objectives; policy officials first set the objective and then make the decisions about which tactics to adopt.

Illustrative hypothetical cases of Implementation Analysis include:


Why and When

Policy implementation regularly involves attempting to advance US interests under uncertain and often risky conditions. In these circumstances, policy officials recognize that US objectives can be difficult to achieve. Deterring rogue states from developing weapons of mass destruction and promoting democratic practice in policies with entrenched authoritarian traditions, for example, require overcoming deeply imbedded obstacles. Policy officials need support from intelligence analysts in identifying and assessing opportunities and dangers.

Intelligence analysts, through Implementation Analysis, can bring important value added to the policymakers' table:

Even when the analysts' inventory of alternatives largely mirrors that of policy officials, the latter benefit from exposure to the organized information and rigorous argumentation of the former.

In addition to its intrinsic value added, Implementation Analysis can also help the DI maintain effective policy ties on politically charged issues. When pursuit of US goals entails coping with multiple difficult challenges, heavily engaged policy officials do not appreciate a steady stream of DI assessments that reminds them (as well as congressional critics, for example) that they are working against long odds. Implementation Analysis sends the message that the intelligence team, although professionally committed to objectivity, is not indifferent to the challenges the policy team faces and will lend its expertise to help advance and protect US interests even under difficult circumstances.

In any case, analysts should place a premium on close lines of communication in delivering Implementation Analysis:

The initial DI delivery of Implementation Analysis usually consists of a briefing or memorandum for one or a handful of principal policy officials. In recognition of the value added. the latter have in the past subsequently asked for:


Tradecraft Tips

Veteran analysts offer the following tradecraft tips for putting Implementation Analysis into practice:

-- Recognition of the policymakers' role as "action officers" charged with getting things started or stopped among adversaries and allies overseas.

-- Recognition of the policy officials' propensity at times to take risk for gain. For example, policymakers may see a one-in-five chance of turning an unsatisfactory situation around as a sound investment of US prestige and their professional energies.

-- For example, if the objective of US policy is to leverage a foreign government or organization to reverse its course, analysts can first think of what developments could lead to that outcome and then make an inventory of the forces at play that could trigger such developments.

-- If US policy calls for getting from point A to point B, then here are some gateways to consider and some cul-de-sacs to avoid.

-- If the US policy objective is to strengthen the forces for moderation in country X, then the following factors should be examined as potential catalysts for the desired development.

-- When analysts are pessimistic about prospects for advancing US objectives, they can employ a variation of the Sherlock Holmes methodology for moving forward when there is no promising suspect in a murder case. Provide policymakers with an assessment of the least unpromising tactical alternatives.

-- DI analysts, in effect, are the scouts that provide information and insights to help the policymaker-coach develop the most sensible game plan, win or lose.

-- Presentation and ranking of alternatives via a matrix containing a rough cost-benefit analysis is a useful way to convey the analysts' underlying all-source findings and linchpin assumptions. At the same time, such a matrix focuses the DI effort on analyzing alternatives, while leaving the actual choosing to the policymakers.

Forward to "Note 9"

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